Add this to the list accomplishments LeBron James could add to his sterling career: Wrangling yet another title after his hold over the sport has noticeably weakened.
That, as much as anything, will define a season for one of the game’s greatest ever, one in which he can still push back the inevitable end, hold off time, and try, despite his falling spot in the game’s hierarchy, to use his remarkable remaining skills to try to squeeze out one last championship run — and silence all of us who likely think it’s too late for that.
At his peak, LeBron has won four championships in three places — including, against the historical odds and in service of a place he loves, in Cleveland. He’s the game’s all-time leading scorer, having surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last season. He’s currently fourth all-time in assists. He’s won four MVP awards and four NBA Finals MVP awards.
Yet almost all of that was accomplished as the game’s best, or near-best, player. This season will be different. This challenge — the one before him and the Lakers as he enters his 21st season — may be the most difficult of his career.
Because now, older, wiser, more injury-prone and less able to bend the game single-handedly to his will, what else is left to do but chase rings? To try and will one last title run from a glittering career. And — like other past greats in the vein of Kareem or Tim Duncan — to do so when many have written him off.
Forget just basketball. Father Time has become just another enemy for would-be sports greats to humble. Take Tom Brady in the NFL, Novak Djokovic yet again the other day in tennis, Lionel Messi still in soccer. To be the best sometimes means dominating even when many no longer regard you that way.
That’s certainly true here at CBS Sports, where the King has fallen to No. 12 overall in our top 100 player rankings, which was voted on by our entire staff of NBA writers. (I had him at No. 9 on my personal list, but the point holds that LeBron no longer seems to be the player he once was.)
He now sits, at least for us,…
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Author : Bill Reiter
Publish date : 2023-09-12 10:09:51
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