LeBron James Counts Blessings On 33rd Birthday

LeBron James celebrated his 33rd birthday yesterday (Dec. 30), and in the process, he counted his blessings.

More about LeBron (via ESPN):

LeBron James will turn 33-years old Saturday and commemorate the occasion by playing the Utah Jazz. “I ain’t got nothing to prove,” James said of playing on his big day. “It’s my born day, it’s my birthday. You want to perform well on your birthday and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few games on my birthday. It’s always great to get to live another year. I don’t take those moments for granted. And not only to be able to live another year, I get to play an NBA game on my birthday. That’s like icing on the cake, literally, for your birthday.”

Most athletes tend to slow down at the age of 33, and especially when they have been playing in the pros for 14-plus years, but that has not been the case for King James.

This season, James is putting up 27.8 points, 9.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game. Given those numbers, and the fact that LeBron has been having one of his best seasons in quite some time, it would not be a surprise if he ended up winning the MVP award at season’s end.

According to ESPN, “As he approaches his 33rd birthday in his remarkable 15th NBA season, LeBron James has found himself echoing his old Nike marketing slogan to gently remind people tuning in what they’re witnessing.”

“I think people have just grown accustomed of what I do, and it gets taken for granted at times what I do because I do it so often and it’s been a constant thing for so long,” James said Dec. 6 on the morning of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game against the Sacramento Kings. “It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s what LeBron’s supposed to do.’ It looks easy, but it’s not.”

Whatever feats James is making look effortless this season — and there are plenty of stats that illustrate his elevated play — were set in motion nearly a decade ago by several events that shaped his basketball future.

James has helped lead the Cavaliers to a 24-12 record this season, which is good enough for third-best in the Eastern Conference standings. The Cavs are 3.5 games out of first, with the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics currently in front of them. It’s important to note that the Cavs were 5-7 at one point during the 2017-18 NBA season.

More from the ESPN article mentioned above:

If James wins his fifth MVP this season — he came in second to James Harden for the award in a national poll of potential awards voters conducted by The Washington Post this month — he’d become the first multiple MVP winner to go more than four years between taking home the hardware.

“They called him the Chosen One, but he’s the one who chose that he wanted to be great,” James’ agent and longtime confidant, Rich Paul, told ESPN.

But even Paul still struggles to answer one question when it comes to where James is today: Why push so hard, even as his 33rd birthday approaches?

“Commitment is the key to anything,” James said.

“There will be times when I come home from a road trip and I just don’t feel like going to the practice facility,” James told ESPN, “but I got to go because I know everything is there — cold tanks, hot tanks, ultrasound machines. I can get a great stretch, I can get a great lift in.”

What James is doing this season is amazing — there’s really no other way to put it. Once again, athletes aren’t supposed to get better and better in their 30s, but that is exactly what James has managed to do.

The New York Times recently published an article titled this: Is LeBron James, at 33, Better Than He Was 5 Years Ago?

It’s a fair question to ask given the numbers he is putting up this season.

From The New York Times article:

LeBron James turns 33 on Saturday, and you don’t need advanced statistics to tell you that he is still playing amazingly.

Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors went a bit further this week: “How many players are better in Year 15 than in Year 10? … Go down the list: Michael, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Kareem, Bill Russell. A lot of them didn’t even get to 15 years. Were any of them better in Year 15 than in Year 10? I can’t imagine.”

Athletes in most sports peak in their late 20s. But could Kerr’s contention be true? Could James actually be playing better at 33 than at 28?

Certainly James’s 15th year ranks at the very top among players so deep into their careers. James’s average of 27.8 points per game is the highest of any player in Year 15, surpassing Karl Malone’s 1999-00 season and Kobe Bryant in 2010-11.

More from The New York Times article mentioned above:

Even compared to his younger competitors, James ranks near the top this year. He leads the league in field goals, is second in points to James Harden and, defying his age, is second in minutes played, behind 22-year-old Andrew Wiggins.

But saying he is actually better than five years ago is a stretch.

James’s career numbers show incredible consistency and longevity, though not necessarily improvement. Year after year, without fail, he has scored 25 to 30 points a game and pulled down six to eight rebounds.

While so many people like to analyze the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James argument, at some point, people need to just sit back and enjoy the show that is LeBron James. What he has done during his career is amazing. Not only has he met rather lofty expectations but he has exceeded them as well. In the sports world, that is quite the feat.

At 33 years old, LeBron is still arguably the best player in the world, and that is saying something, especially since he has been in the league for so long.

James appears to have many great years left in the tank, which should be music to the ears of every basketball fan.

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