LeBron James has apparently found the fountain of youth as he does not show any sign of aging.
Just two years after leading the playoffs with 34 points per game, James is navigating the Lakers through the playoffs averaging 26.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists on a career-low 34.2 minutes played. He is closer than he has ever been to averaging a triple-double in the postseason and his shooting is at an all-time high.
On the defensive end, we are seeing a committed LeBron, who people labeled too old to be able to still play effective defense and sustain the effort. He is proving everyone that it is totally false.
Although numbers do not say everything, especially on the defensive end, he is sporting a great 101 defensive rating and a net rating of +20. More importantly, we keep finding him all over the floor, swatting shots with big-time blocks. He is averaging 2 per game in the series with the Rockets.
James’ body does not show any sign of slowing down. He remains the powerful, quick and explosive athlete he was at 30 years old, without ever suffering a major injury in his career.
This is unprecedented. No athlete in history could still perform at 35 years old with such an efficient physical effort. This is the result of a rare genetic heritage combined with the extreme cure he has been taking for his body since he was a rookie in Cleveland.
The numbers prove it and the eye test is there to confirm them. This year LeBron has led the regular season in assists and still been able to average 25.3 points while playing on a reduced time (career-low 34.6 minutes per game) to minimize the load on his body.
He was tenth in the league in PER with 25.5, which, as great players do, he raised in the playoffs at 29.9, sixth overall. He trailed only Giannis Antetokounmpo in real plus/minus and PIE, becoming first in the playoffs in the latter, going from 19.8 to 23.2.
Constantly in the GOAT conversation, the unending, unresolved discussion, we can convene that LeBron James is at least the GOAT at 35 years old.
This year he proved he is the real MVP of the league, with Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks choking in the Conference Semifinals, while he is leading the Los Angeles Lakers to just two losses so far and never failing to perform night in and night out.
But we cannot stress enough the fact that the real proof of his unbelievable longevity is what we see every day on the floor. The way his game and his athleticism are not fading away by no means.
These ever-lasting physical gifts, along with the experience that 35 years old provide, make him an unusual and extremely dangerous player, the definitive threat. The athleticism and performativity of a young athlete in his physical prime driven by the sage and knowledge of an experienced veteran. Something we had never seen before.
At this rate, we wonder how he will look at 40. So far, it remains unpredictable, but there is a growing chance he could still be an All-NBA player.