In many sports around the world, pundits, bettors, and armchair fans could chew the fat for hours about who is the greatest athlete in their chosen field.
But with basketball, there is something of a consensus amongst the vast majority: nobody is fit to lace the boots of LeBron James.
A haul of silverware and accolades that includes four MVP awards, three NBA Championships, two Olympic gold medals, fifteen All-Star appearances, and the title of all-time play-off points scorer speak for themselves, and there are few in the modern game who even get close to the 34-year-old.
Unfortunately, time is running out in the career of the veteran, and with his current employer the Los Angeles Lakers struggling for form, we must all cross our fingers and toes that James’ time as a post-season playmaker isn’t over.
So, can the forward help to fire the Lakers to the playoffs, and even perhaps the NBA Finals?
City of Angels Need to Take Flight
The Golden State Warriors have absolutely dominated the Pacific Division, enjoying a ten-game cushion over their opposition with an outstanding home record of 23-8.
The Lakers, Clippers and co simply haven’t been able to cope with the scoring power of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and the Warriors look a certainty to win the Division and have even been tipped up in expert NBA picks to win the whole Championship; no longer can you bet against them on the spread to do exactly that at the Vegas line.
While the Division and Conference titles might be gone, there’s still play-off places to be played for, and the Lakers find themselves just four wins behind the Clippers in the race for the top eight.
James should be able to inspire his side past the Sacramento Kings, whose bizarre divisional record of 3-10 this season will surely see them fall out of contention.
The Lakers have two games in hand on their city rivals, and they could prove all-important in the final shake-up.
But now is the time for them to make a stand, with fixtures upcoming against the Memphis Grizzlies, who sit bottom of the Southwest Division prior to five home court dates in six outings, including a crunch clash with the Clippers on March 5.
If LeBron’s Lakers are to help their star man to more post-season glory, the next couple of weeks will prove definitive.
Veteran Worried That Age is Not Just a Number
The LA outfit was trounced 115-128 by the New Orleans Pelicans recently, and it was a defeat that left LeBron questioning whether his teammates had the necessary experience to make it to the playoffs.
“How many know what’s at stake if you’ve never been there?” he queried aloud as the post-match recriminations began.
Is the 34-year-old feeling the strain of being his franchise’s talisman? Only twice in his career has James missed out on the post-season battle, and he certainly won’t want to tarnish that fine record in the coming weeks and months.
Injuries and inconsistent form have blighted James individually and the Lakers as an outfit this season, and some alarming stats confirm their offensive woes.
Luke Walton has not been able to coach them to more success from an attacking perspective, and right now they sit 14th in the overall standings for average points per game, their tally of 100 being a full 18 shy of the Warriors.
And with an Offensive Power Ranking of just 21st, as per the NBA’s own rating system, clearly something has to give if LeBron is to make history once more.