Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James switched gears after Anthony Davis injured his knee in December, playing some of the finest basketball of his career ever since.
James has averaged 32.5, points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists over the last 18 games, scoring fewer than 30 on just four occasions. That run includes the 33 points the four-time NBA champion scored in the 106-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets, in which Davis returned to action after 37 days away from the court.
James has recorded at least 32.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in an 18-game span for just the second time in his illustrious career, the last time doing so in the second half of the 2007-08 season — just after he turned 23.
Some 14 years later, the Lakers’ misfortunes motivated him to put up numbers that no other player aged 36 or older has ever registered over nearly a quarter of an 81-game season before.
“I basically just told myself ‘Nothing else matters besides what you do out on the floor and how you continue to lead those guys,’” James explained.
“It doesn’t matter the conversations that are going on outside of our locker room and the narration of our ballclub or whatever is going on, the injuries, all that stuff. Nothing else matters besides what I bring to the table every single night. How positive I can continue to lead these guys, no matter the outcome.
“And if I have a position to play this game the way I do, then go out and make the most of it. So, stay low and keep firing is the motto I’ve been on for, I don’t know how long it’s been, but I don’t have an excuse. And I won’t make one.”
Although James doesn’t see a point in comparing this year to previous campaigns, he points out that 2021-22 has brought in a unique set of challenges.
“The challenges that we’ve had this year have been different from any other challenge from injuries to safety and health protocols and suspensions and things of that nature,” he said.
“At the end of the day, you keep the main thing the main thing and that’s how we continue to get better for each other in house. Stay even-keeled throughout the whole process and continue to work the habits. I think we have a really good team and when we’re at full strength we can be really good, but it’s not about the conversation.
“It’s about in between the four lines. When we get out on the floor, how can we make it happen and that’s all that matters.”
James: Davis makes Lakers ’much more complete’ team
Despite his recent heroics, James was excited to see Davis by his side again on Tuesday. The 37-year-old superstar says his younger teammate’s mere presence changes the on-court dynamics for the Lakers.
“He just makes our team so much more complete,” James said. “Our length defensively, our ability to really get up in people’s faces because we know we got him at the rim, or our ability to switch a lot of things because he can literally guard one through five.
“Offensively, it just attracts another set of eyes off of myself, off of Russ, off of Melo, off of Malik [Monk], off everybody because he’s such a dynamic player.”
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