You never know when it will happen: the moment where young legs gain enough wisdom and the experienced rely too much on guile and muscle memory instead of a full tank.
We’d like to think we know it when we see it — when LeBron James announced to the NBA at age 22 he was carrying a less-than-stellar team to the Finals, or when Kobe Bryant sent his idol Michael Jordan off into the sunset with a 50-ball on his ledger.
Those seminal moments stand out so much, it’s hard to pinpoint until it’s well past the point. But it feels like we’re in the middle of a cyclone in the NBA, the mantle not being passed respectfully but snatched forcefully, the way it should be.
It’s early, and matters can certainly turn on its head. However, it feels like a sea change is occurring, finally. We’ve been marveling so much at the individual greatness of James, some 21 years into a storybook career, that other star players of his era are aging gracefully without the fanfare.
Grace, though, only accounts for so much. Grading Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on a curve relative to the ghosts of previous generations is all well and good. But to this new crop of teams and players popping up, it’s James, Durant and Curry who are the ghosts — ghosts with big targets on their backs.
The respect is there, but the fear has seemingly faded, at least for the teams who employ them. Predicting which team will emerge year to year is educated guessing. It’s hard to project which players will go from having star talent to being superstars, those who produce like stars and then suddenly, winning like stars with an ability to recognize a game is on the line, then taking it.
And never letting go.
It shows more in the expectations of the veterans who’ve won and risen to the occasion more times than we can count, without paying much mind to their ages, the tread on those tires. It shows when looking at James Harden in year 15 (!) and believing he should be able to summon the player who scored 30 in 32 straight games way back in 2019 — the second-longest streak in NBA history.
It shows when seeing Klay Thompson and wondering what’s wrong,…
Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/youth-is-coming-in-the-nba-and-not-waiting-for-lebron-james-and-co-to-pass-the-torch-222258996.html
Author : Yahoo Sports
Publish date : 2023-11-20 22:22:58
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