It is hard to believe, but Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James remains among the NBA’s elite despite being in Year 19 of his career.
James has managed to surpass the lofty expectations thrust upon him as a rookie as he has racked up four championships, MVPs and Finals MVPs. He has also resurrected franchises as he brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA Championship and led the Lakers back to relevance when they took it all in 2020.
Even though James recently dealt with another ankle injury, it is worth noting that this part of the year marks 18-year anniversary of when he entered the league. Head coach Frank Vogel recounted how highly-touted he was coming in and when he first heard of the young star at the time.
“I remember being told about him by a college buddy, who had just been keeping up with the high school scene, that there was an up-and-coming young talent that you got to see. I remember being told about him and then obviously didn’t really see him play other than a few draft highlights until we played in that first year. And it was just, it was impressive to see the physical athleticism, but also the passing when you watch him on tape.
“Obviously he didn’t have the great jump shot then yet, but the hype and the expectations were so enormous that it’s really like of all the things that you’re impressed with LeBron James, it’s, to me, it’s the fact that a teenager can have that placed upon him, those types of expectations, and to go through his whole career without any hiccups. There’s nothing, you know, like what’s the biggest person you can say about him? The way he went to Miami? I mean, like that’s nothing, and it’s truly remarkable as a person, and to speak of his integrity and character to get through that to where he is today. So you mentioned that date, that’s the first thing that I think about.”
Young players can succumb to the pressures of the NBA and being anointed the next great superstar, but James took all of that attention in stride and turned himself into arguably the greatest player ever. James at his peak was a force to be reckoned with and for him to be this effective this late in his career is nothing short of amazing.
Frank Vogel confident Lakers defense can turn it around
While James remains one of the best players in the league, the Lakers have gotten off to a rough start and it is primarily due to their defensive woes. However, Vogel still has faith that Los Angeles can be an elite defense moving forward.
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