Of course has LeBronJames played on Wednesday, despite the injury to his left ankle. It was the Los Angeles Lakers’ only appearance this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James grew up in Akron, 30 miles away, and part of that fairytale career is that he was chosen by the Cavaliers at the NBA talent fair 19 years ago and gave the franchise its first title in club history six years ago, after returning home from Miami .
James played well, 21 points and 17 rebounds, but his Lakers lost again, this time 102:116. It was the 13th loss in the 23rd game, and the fundamental question is: Why is James doing this to himself?
Is he on the decline? Some numbers confirm that
A headline in the Los Angeles Times from last week: “Is LeBron on the decline?” The Lakers play slowly when they have the ball; In important moments he no longer scores like he used to; At the age of 37, he is no longer as dynamic as he used to be anyway.
These are harsh judgements, but backed by numbers: James’ scoring rate this season when the game is tight in the final five minutes of a game and a team’s lead is less than five points: 37 percent. His career value: 52 percent. The Lakers started the season poorly with 10 losses in 12 games. Certainly they’ve caught up now; also because Anthony Davis is getting better and better (he retired with flu symptoms on Wednesday), because returnee Dennis Schröder is fit again (16 points against the Cavaliers) and because the drama about former top player Russell Westbrook (16 points) is not a tragedy seems to become. And it’s up to James, who still ranks among the best in the NBA. 25.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game (as of Wednesday) are still house numbers.
Only: The Lakers still have the third worst record (10:13) in the Western Conference; it takes effort to reach the playoffs, nobody talks about the title in LA. So, again, the question about someone who has won at least one championship with each of their three clubs (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers). Who is likely to replace the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the best points collector in NBA history this season (Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points, James was last at 37,501) and really doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore: Why is he doing this to himself?
Tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou says: “True champions are never satisfied – even at the summit they look for the next mountain; often it’s one that nobody has conquered before.” This mountain is what you see when you look into the basketball hall at Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles; LeBron’s sons Bronny and Bryce play there. The father wants to create something that has never happened in NBA history. “In the last year of my career I will play with my son,” James told the sports portal The Athletic.
On a field with your own child, that has only happened three times in the four major US leagues: once in ice hockey (Gordie Howe and his sons Mark and Marty) and twice in baseball (Ken Griffey and Tim Reynes) . Famous sons also played in the NBA, for example Steph Curry or Austin Rivers, who was coached by father Doc at the LA Clippers – but there has never been a father-son team on the floor.
A public call to make it to the NBA – what pressure for a son
Bronny is 18 years old, so he was born two years after his father’s NBA debut. Experts agree that he has the talent, he is listed between 30th and 50th place in his year. This category of talent doesn’t usually transfer directly to the NBA, and neither should Bronny: He could go to college for a year. He already has numerous offers, including from Michigan, Duke, Ohio State.
However, he could also be trained in duels with seasoned professionals in the lower-class G-League or the Australian league. In 2024 he could report for the NBA draft. Why 2024? Well, then the father’s contract with the Lakers ends; he could then change where he wants – also to the club that will choose the Filius. Oh yes: Two years later, the next James offspring would be ready: Bryce, 15, is considered to be equally talented.
“I’ll be following very closely who’s going to vote and where these years. I feel like I can still play for a while,” says father James, but that begs the question: what kind of pressure must it be not only to be the son of one of the greatest basketball players in history – but to be heard publicly asking to make it to the NBA so that the father can still reach a peak. And it is also questionable whether and to what extent that affects the NBA when James says that he would like to play in a team with one or both sons?
As of now, no one has answered these questions, so there is a lot of speculation and debate. The project is still dismissed as the ambition of the proud father, who only wants the best for his sons and encourages them; who also gives them breaks because he thinks the training in the USA is far too intensive: “You need breaks. I tell them to sit out a game or a tournament.”
You can’t believe James when he says he wants his sons to grow up normally; although many things are normal for his sons because they know nothing else but this life. There’s something coming up for the NBA, because if there’s one thing known about James, it’s this: When he puts his mind to something, he goes through with it – whether it’s playing with an injury in the only game at home or something , which no one has ever achieved before.