LeBron James is putting up an incredible eight-game run for the Los Angeles Lakers that has seen him create a new record, and get the team back on track this season.
James, whose 37th birthday is approaching at the end of the month, recently became the oldest player to record a 30-point triple-double after dropping 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds on the Orlando Magic last Sunday. In doing so, James surpassed the late Kobe Bryant as the oldest player ever to drop a 30-point triple-double.
What was most telling was not just that he posted the triple-double, it was the manner in which he did it. Possibly for the first time this season, he looked like his old self.
He looked like he was fully healthy again.
In his past eight games, James is averaging 29.8 points, 8.0 assists and 7.3 rebounds. The Lakers have won five of those eight games to move to 15-13 on the season heading into Wednesday’s game against Dallas.
After his triple-double against the Magic, James said his apparent burst of good play was sustainable throughout the season.
“Who me? How do I continue how I’m playing? Been doing it for 19 years,” he said. “Just do what I’ve been doing. I feel like I’m getting better and better each and every day. I’m getting healthier and healthier.”
It’s no secret that James has spent millions trying to maintain his shape and athleticism every single year. This is why he can maintain his athletic ability and strength as he gets older – it’s almost as if he gets even better with age, and this season, his nineteenth in the league, he appears to be pushing back Father Time.
Since LeBron is a veteran, he understands his body, and what it requires better than anyone. After missing 10 of the Lakers’ first 16 games because of various injuries, it appeared that Father Time had indeed caught up with the Lakers forward, but James has improved his play as the season has gone on.
“Obviously, my injury played a big part of me getting out of game shape,” he said following the win against Oklahoma City. “The dynamics of how I move, how I play left me kind of hampered at times not to be full stride and things of that nature. I’m able to see plays before they happen, but not be able to actually make them.”
Players at James’ age tend to see their minutes decrease as they get older, and their skills decline, but James is averaging the most minutes per game (36.8) since joining the Lakers in 2018 which is an increase from his 33.4 minutes per game last season.
“For one, I don’t play the game thinking about injuries. And also, I feel worse when I play low minutes,” James said in the preseason.
Following the win against Orlando, James reiterated that he doesn’t think about these sorts of things.
“That’s just my mindset. Don’t get involved in how many minutes I played, how many days off,” James said. “I don’t confine to that. I think you think negative thoughts or negative energy, it just creeps into your mind. So, I’m as young as I’ve ever been.”
When most guys in their late 30’s can’t even maintain a berth on an NBA roster, James’ longevity puts him in a rarified space.
The fact that he is still performing at such a high level at age 37 makes LeBron’s incredible performances of late even more impressive.