Despite being in Year 18 and having minimal rest after winning his fourth NBA title and Finals MVP award, LeBron James showed no signs of slowing down to begin the 2020-21 campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The expectation from fans and the media was that James would defer to Anthony Davis to carry the Lakers throughout the regular season, but that was far from the case as the former picked up right where he left off after his impressive 2020 NBA playoff run. James propelled Los Angeles near the top of the Western Conference and established himself as the frontrunner for MVP, only missing one game before the All-Star break.
Davis would eventually go down with a calf injury that would keep him out for two months, but James managed to keep the Lakers afloat until an ankle injury of his own suffered against the Atlanta Hawks in March sidelined him as well.
The injury derailed any chance for James to earn his fifth career MVP award and paved the way for Nikola Jokic to run away with the honors. The Lakers star would return late in the season but seemed to re-aggravate his ankle injury against the Toronto Raptors that forced him to miss additional time.
James made his comeback with two games left in the regular season and appeared healthier this time around. However, in the playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, it was clear that James was not 100 percent healthy as he lacked the same burst and explosion he normally has. The result was the Lakers losing in six games after Davis went down again as well.
James ended up playing 45 regular-season games and averaged 25 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.1 steals.
The Lakers found themselves in the Play-In Tournament after finishing seventh in the Western Conference and were pitted against feisty Golden State Warriors, who had Stephen Curry playing an MVP-level. Los Angeles went into the half down 13 points but rallied behind James in the second half to tie the game up.
In the closing minutes with the game tied at 100, James was able to knock down a deep 3-pointer over Curry despite blurry vision that gave the Lakers a 103-100 lead. James’ three would end up being the go-ahead field goal and Los Angeles was able to keep the seventh seed and advance to the playoffs.
Even though James will be entering Year 19, he is poised to have another productive regular season after an offseason of proper rest and recovery. The superstar has shown that Father Time has yet to diminish his status as one of the greatest players in the world and he will be on a mission to prove that the NBA Championship still runs through him.
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