Despite turning 37 years old on Thursday, LeBron James shows no signs of slowing down as evidenced by his dominant performance in the Los Angeles Lakers blowout victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on New Year’s Eve.
James had been on an offensive tear entering the contest against the Trail Blazers and he continued his hot shooting from the field as he scored a season-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting. Despite his scoring onslaught, he also was able to stuff the stat sheet with 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in just 29 minutes of action.
With Anthony Davis out of the lineup, James has picked up the scoring burden, though he emphasized that he needs to still be smart when it comes to his shot selection.
“I think anytime you lose a 25-point scorer or more, then I think everyone has to pick their game up offensively, including myself,” James said after the game. “And if that’s what our team needs then I’m OK with that. But along that road, I still take pride in being efficient. I’m not a guy that just goes out and sees if I can jack up a bunch of shots.
“I want to be efficient every single night anytime I’m playing. Along this streak I’ve been on as far as my scoring, I’ve been extremely efficient as well and I take way more pride in that than the scoring. That’s just who I am as a basketball player.”
Against the Trail Blazers, James made sure to use his size to his advantage as he consistently posted up their undersized frontcourt and also ran hard in transition for dunks and layups. What he is doing in Year 19 is almost unprecedented and the star acknowledged that he puts in the time and effort to keep playing at such a high level, acknowleding that he only thinks about how old he is when reminded of it.
“I don’t know because I don’t feel like I’ve been in the league 19 years. When I’m daily reminded of it, I feel it sometimes, when I wake up every morning and I’m reminded of it every single day ‘Year 19, Year 19.’ But I literally try to prepare my mind and my body and my soul on how I can stay young in a young man’s game. Jay-Z has an unbelievable song, a great song about just always keeping your mind, manifesting young thoughts in your mind, but at the same time, keeping up with the young pack, the people that’s always trying to chase you that kind of say that you’re too old to be at this stage still.
“So it’s just always a daily reminder and sometimes you do have to remind people that you can still do what you do at a high level. And I’ve just been very blessed and want to continue to put the work in. That’s what it all boils down to, it boils down to putting the work in and everything else will take care of itself.”
At this point, there are not many words left to describe how special James is. This recent stretch from him is yet another reminder to the basketball world that he is far from hanging up his sneakers for good.
James trying to enjoy basketball while he still can
One thing that was noticeable during Friday night’s game was how much fun James was having on the floor, which he doesn’t want to take for granted understanding that his career will not last forever.
“I’m having a lot of joy just playing the game of basketball,” James said. “Obviously we’re frustrated with losses and things of that nature, but at the end of the day, when you get an opportunity to put on an NBA uniform and go out and play the game that you love, it means a lot and I’m never trying to take that for granted because there will be a day obviously when you don’t have the opportunity to put on a uniform and play and play in front of 20,000 fans and have that competition against opponents and things of that nature. So I try to have as much fun as possible.”
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