As the home stretch of the 2019-20 NBA regular season approaches, the race for the NBA Most Valuable Player award is beginning to heat up.
James’ performance has been truly outstanding this season as he has become the Los Angeles Lakers point guard, leading the league in assists while they have jumped to the top of the Western Conference standings. Making his performance even more unreal is the fact that James is doing this in his 17th NBA season at 35 years old.
Most players begin to decline at this stage of their careers, but James has been the exception to the rule. Antetokounmpo recently spoke on this, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN:
“It’s amazing. He’s 35 and playing at a high level,” Antetokounmpo said Wednesday as his Milwaukee Bucks prepared to face James’ Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. “He just leads the path for us.”
Antetokounmpo continued on about James, making clear how he is an inspiration for himself to keep getting better so that he can do the same once he reaches that stage:
“A lot of times we think that, ‘OK, we’re going to retire at 35,’ but seeing a guy at 35 being still top-three best player in the world, that makes us want to be there. Makes me want to be there one day, so I’ve got to keep taking care of my body, eating the right way, being healthy, and as I said — he paved the way, and hopefully we can just follow.”
While James remains amongst the NBA’s most elite players, most would argue that he is no longer at the top of the heap. But the fact that he even remains in the discussion — and that an argument could be made for him — is truly impressive and inspiring.
Antetokounmpo is the ultimate competitor, looking to prove himself as the NBA’s best player, but even he still draws inspiration from James. As he noted, James is still a leader for all players and he continues to set the example that everyone follows.
The day could soon come in which the torch will be passed, but James has shown that he isn’t quite ready for that day yet. These two could very well meet in the 2020 NBA Finals, which could be the ultimate stage where everyone will find out if James has truly been passed.