Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James proved he is still one of the best players in the league on Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors. Desperately needing a win, James scored 56 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, carrying the Lakers to their first victory since before the All-Star break.
Scoring 56 points at any time in a players’ career is impressive. However, doing it at age 37 — in his 19th NBA season — is completely unprecedented. Despite being towards the tail end of his career, James is playing at age 37 the way many superstars play in their primes.
When asked how he’s been able to maintain himself for so long, James spoke about the off-court care that goes into keeping his legs fresh. “The No. 1 thing is sleep, rest,” James said. “Obviously I’ll be able to sleep better tonight then I’ve done over the last few games. That’s just human nature, you have your mind racing and racing and racing on what can you do to help the team get a win, figuring out ways you can be better.
“But I get optimal sleep and in between days I try to get a nap in as well, a couple hours, but also just always in the treatment room, in the cold tubs icing down, stretching, eating right, putting the right food in my body, the right fuel to be able to play a game less than 48 hours later.
“That’s what’s been going on, we’ve been playing every other day, we got another one on Monday,” James said of the hectic NBA schedule. “So just trying to stay above the curve, I’m always trying to be proactive and not reactive in anything that I do as far as what I do before a game. A lot of people don’t see what I do, but I get to the arena five hours before the game to start prepping both mentally, physically, spiritually, everything. So when I get out on the floor, I just let it go.”
Another reason for his success has been the way he’s molded his game to fit his team and the era he’s playing in. James went deeper into the transitions he’s made throughout his storied career. “You got to have a growth mindset and in this league, it’s probably changed three or four different times on how teams play since I entered in ’03,” James said.
“It was paint dominant when I first came in, it was a lot of bigs that you just throw the ball in the post and watch them work. And then a few years down the line, it became a lot more of just passing and cutting, things of that nature, and then a few years later, it became very pick-and-roll heavy. Then Steph [Curry] entered the league and it became three-ball, three-ball, three-ball.
“You got to be able to adjust and if you cannot have a growth mindset on how you can find ways to get better with the time, then you’ll get left behind. I’m not saying that I’ve changed my game in any way, I’ve always just wanted to be able to have a game that fits any style of play or any era. I feel like my game will fit any era in basketball history from the time the great James Naismith created it. So as long as I’m in this league, if the game changes again and I’m still in it, hopefully I’ll be able to continue to have that growth mindset where I continue to adapt.”
If the Lakers are going to have any level of success for the remainder of the season, it’s going to be on the back of James, who continues to carry a struggling team.
At age 37, James is second in the NBA in points per game, sitting just 0.1 points behind MVP candidate Joel Embiid. What James is doing is not only a first of its kind in the NBA, it also feels very unlikely to happen again.
For a player to dominate the way he has for nearly 20 years — and still clearly have a few years left in him — is why the Lakers remain an entertaining product each night despite the growing loss total.
James not shutting down for season
Despite rumors that the Lakers star could shut things down for the season given the team’s place in. the standings, he continues to give brilliant performances. Reportedly, James has no plans to shut it down for the year, as he wants to play out the season regardless of result for the Lakers.
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