It’s perplexing to me that Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James turns 30-years-old today . Several years ago, when my Los Angeles Lakers were a perennial championship contender in the NBA, I was getting into daily arguments on Facebook, trying to justify why Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a better basketball player than James. Yes, I was that annoying Lakers fan that continuously mentioned James’ inferiority in the clutch and his lack of championships as to why he wasn’t close to reaching Bryant’s status as a baller.
The Kobe vs. LeBron debate is futile now, as James has surpassed Bryant as a player in today’s NBA. LeBron also has a legitimate chance of leapfrogging Kobe in terms of all-time greatness, and here is where the crucifixion of B.J. Boyer begins by Laker fans. Oh well.
As LeBron beings to slowly creep into the latter stages of his career (that was really weird to type,) he plans to look to Bryant, the modern basketball sage, for guidance on how to handle aging in the Association. Here’s what the two-time NBA champion had to say to Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report during a fantastic Q&A session:
B/R: Kobe Bryant (on Dec. 14) got celebrated for passing Michael Jordan in points. You’ve talked a little bit about your appreciation for what he’s done. As you watch him and the way he’s handling things six years down the line from where you are, does it make you think about how you might handle things? And also, you are more than 2,000 points ahead of where he was at age 30.
LJ: Absolutely. Absolutely. Come on, man. This is the longest shortest career of anything. I think about all the time, what’s next for me in the next couple of years, you know 35, and then if I make it to get where Kobe is, you know. How do I approach the game? And what is my mindset? And is my love for the game still there? I absolutely think about that stuff. I mean, how could you not? I mean, I’ve been in this league 12 years, and it’s not like I’m going up another 12 years. You know, my escalator is starting to tail. So I understand that.
Bryant, age 36, is currently averaging 24.1 points per game (on an atrocious 37% shooting) in his 19th NBA season. Despite his longevity and a boatload of accolades, Bryant continues to find ways to stay motivated and play somewhat effective basketball. Bryant recently reached another milestone, passing NBA legend Michael Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
It’ll be interesting to see how James tweaks his game to remain a dominant player in the Association once his athletic ability diminishes. He’s taken a more cerebral approach to the game in recent years, and it’s something that has helped land him two championships and four NBA Finals appearances. It’s been certainly been special to watch LeBron James develop as a basketball player over the last decade plus. I was once a Lakers fan blinded by hate, disgusted at the fact that James would eventually snatch the crown as the league’s best player from Bryant if he hadn’t already.
I now recognize that LeBron James is an all-time great (I hate throwing around the word great casually in sports, just ask my friends) and one of the most transcendent, if not the most, of this decade. It’ll be interesting to see how James handles the next stage of his career, and if he’s going to relinquish the title of “league’s best player” anytime soon (Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis say hello!)
Happy birthday LeBron!