I don’t know if you’ve heard this lately, but LeBron James is pretty old for an elite NBA player. The three-time champion, 15-time All-Star, and four-time MVP already has had a longer and more successful career than pretty much every NBA player ever, and that could have already been said at the start of this decade.
Now, as we are about to enter a new decade, LeBron James finds himself back at the top with his Lakers having the best record in the conference while he’s currently averaging 25.8 points, 10.8 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game. He’s currently putting up those numbers while he sits at 13th in NBA history in minutes played, right in front of John Havlicek and right behind Gary Payton. If he puts up similar minutes this year compared to what his average is per season in his career, he will almost assuredly end up at the 7th spot by the end of the season, passing none other than Kobe Bean Bryant.
So, how the hell does LeBron do this? His former head coach, Erik Spoelstra has an idea, although other NBA players probably won’t be able to replicate this one from LeBron (quotes from Ira Winderman’s piece in the Sun Sentinel).
“I think he’s got the fountain of youth that we’re all searching for. But I’ve said it before we played them, the last time we played, that the fountain of youth for LeBron James is a bunch of work and no days off when no one’s watching.
“He invests a lot of time into his craft and to his body, on all levels, to give himself the best chance of fighting something that we will all lose to. But when you give a great fight that most people aren’t willing to do, you can do remarkable things.”
Okay, so Erik Spoelstra was obviously joking by just marginalizing all of LeBron’s hard work into just finding the fountain of youth. As he said, LeBron’s work on his body isn’t just in the clips documented on his Instagram in the offseason. The man is tirelessly working behind (and in front of) the scenes to ensure that he is not only the fittest athlete in the NBA, but also so he can fight off the “something” that Spoelstra is referring to, which is, of course, good old father time.
Heat superstar, Jimmy Butler, also had this to say about LeBron’s continued longevity:
“He’s played a lot more games than anybody, because he’s constantly going to the Finals. And he plays both sides of the ball, as well. So we’re talking about a guy that has done it at that level for so long.
“He’s always taken care of his body, super smart. I think everybody wants to be like that. Prime basketball? Is he still in his prime? Who knows? Yes? No? But he’s still effective and he’s one of the best players to play this game.”
As Butler states, it’s hard to say that LeBron is in his prime given how many spectacular seasons he has had which led to his four MVPs. However, you can definitively say he’s doing things this season that he hasn’t done before, as he is currently leading the league in assists per game.
For the Lakers’ sake, let’s just hope LeBron keeps drinking from this fountain.