When was LeBron James in his prime?
Fourth NBA title for the basketball superstar : How LeBron James went from loudmouth to elder statesman
When LeBron James finally held the trophy for the best player of the NBA finals in his hands and gave an interview surrounded by his celebrating teammates, he broke out for a moment.
“We just want respect. Coach Vogel wants respect. Our organization wants respect, the Lakers fans want respect. And I want my damned respect, ”said the basketball superstar on Monday night after he led the Los Angeles Lakers to their first title in ten years with a dominant 106: 93 win in the sixth game of the final series against the Miami Heat would have.
In these sentences the old LeBron James could be heard again. An equally ambitious and confident athlete who has divided the basketball world for almost two decades. Some loved the "King" for his self-confidence and his staging. The others hated him for the same reasons. The second faction has become smaller and smaller over the years.
James has transformed over his 17 NBA seasons. From the young super talent, who even before his first professional game was dubbed "The chosen one" by "Sports Illustrated" and who promptly had this immortalized on his skin.
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About "The Decision" when he announced in the media that he was "bringing his talents to South Beach" and leaving his home team Cleveland for Miami. To the Elder Statesman of the NBA, who puts his still big ego at the service of his team and stands up against racism, police violence and for better education.
Of course, there is now another discussion about where James is now in the unwritten rankings in basketball history. Is he already the GOAT, the greatest of all time, or does Michael Jordan remain unmatched?
It's an endless and ultimately completely nonsensical discussion. One thing is certain: LeBron James is and will remain the most dominant player of his generation - or should one rather say, given his seemingly endless heyday: his generations?
At almost 36 years old, James is still a force when it comes down to it. In the past ten seasons he has reached the finals nine times and has now won the championship with the third team (2012, 2013 with Miami, 2016 with Cleveland, 2020 with the Lakers). He completed 260 games in the play-offs alone and was not even injured.
The fact that he has maintained himself at the top for such a long time is due to his discipline, as well as his extraordinary physical capabilities. Reportedly, James spends about $ 1.5 million per season in his body, personal trainers, nutritionists, physical therapists, and his home gym.
You can see the reward year after year, especially in the play-offs. In the final series against Miami he was on the field for 236 of 288 minutes and achieved an average of almost a triple-double (29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.5 assists). Not only has James changed his character, his game has also grown significantly.
His basketball IQ, for all his technical and athletic skills, is probably his greatest strength. James was never a pure scorer, but has become more and more versatile over the years. He has learned to trust his teammates, to make them better, to put himself at the service of the team.
This was particularly clear in this seemingly endless season, which has been shielded from the rest of the world in Disney World since the end of July. After signing Anthony Davis, James passed some of the offensive responsibility to his co-star, who was eight years his junior, making the team so much more flexible. He himself now mostly plays nominally as a playmaker, but can actually be found everywhere, depending on the situation.
The LA Lakers had to wait ten years for a title, an eternity for the most glitzy and sophisticated franchise in the NBA. In 2010, the team was still led by Kobe Bryant. His tragic accidental death presented the Lakers with a great challenge in January, but also welded the team together.
At the first home game after Bryant's death, James said: "Kobe is like a brother to me. Together with my teammates, I want to carry on his legacy - not just this year, but as long as we can play this game we love." The first step was impressive.
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