LeBron James has played in the NBA for 17 seasons and his endurance and ability to play at a high level throughout that time has been incredible.
Let that sink in for a bit.
Literally one year ago today, in a Christmas game matchup against the Golden State Warriors, James had an injury that had many wondering: Would King James still hold the NBA throne in 2019-20 and beyond?
Picture it: Midway through the third quarter of the Lakers’ Christmas Day matchup against the Warriors, James slipped, grabbed his groin and appeared to say “I felt a pop” to the Lakers’ training staff before exiting.
“It was the most serious injury of LeBron’s career,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“For him not to be on the court, he’s not able to influence anything.”
The three-time NBA champion exited the game and didn’t return. He still padded his stat sheet with 17 points and 13 assists while going 6-11 from the field in 21 minutes of action.
The Lakers won the game on Christmas day. James ended up not returning to NBA action until February after strenuous rehab.
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Danny Green’s High Praise for LeBron James
In addition to playing against James in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, Danny Green was LeBron James’ teammate with the Cleveland Cavaliers teammate during the 2009-10 NBA season. Green tells me he is in awe of what he’s seen James do. “What I learned from LeBron is the attitude to follow,” he told me.
“He’s been one of the greatest of all time by how well he’s done it and how long he’s done it for. His longevity is unreal to me, you don’t know a lot of people who’s done it for 16-17 years at a high level what he has and he’s having a MVP season in year 17 is kinda crazy.” Green stated.
Multiple other current and former players have heaped praise on James for his ability to take care of his body in preparation for each season.
“He takes care of his body like that’s his number one thing.” former Laker guard, Scott Machado told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast this summer.
“To not be able to be out there with his boys so I know he’s doing 110% for his recovery. That doesn’t just happen for just everyone it shows the passion behind and for the love of basketball. Just wanting to be out there. I think that’s what he has.”
James’ injury had a residual effect within the Lakers organization. The Lakers finished with a 37-45 record and a tenth place finish in the NBA’s Western Conference.
As a result, LA didn’t make the NBA Playoffs, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were at odds in the front office and former Lakers coach Luke Walton was fired.
Lakers’ 2019 Offseason Roster Overhaul
The Lakers did add a ton of pieces to their roster during the offseason like Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis and Danny Green. They added a coaching staff that includes Frank Vogel as their head coach and Jason Kidd as LA’s assistant coach.
LeBron James has been playing inspired basketball. The internet street called him the “washed king.”
Washed he is not!
His stat line is the envy of players who may have been in the league for only five seasons.
For those keeping score at home: 25.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 10.6 assists and 1.2 steals.
James will turn 35 next week. His journey through 17 years is a case study in doing it his way.
His first go-round in Cleveland was about being home, young and having fun. The trek to Miami was about resume building with the Miami Heat alongside Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
The return to Cleveland produced a ring in 2016 alongside Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and head coach, Ty Lue.
This chapter in LA is about legacy.
“The book is already done,” NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal told Scoop B Radio.
“But if he can win here it’ll just put because just going into Staples Center and look at those people up there those are some very impressive names.”