Coming into the NBA, LeBron James blessed us with a compilation of highlights based solely on his transcending athleticism — He was the fastest and strongest athletes in the league with the highest leaping ability of any player. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, or in James case, slowly fade away.
Although he is still arguably the best player in the NBA, there is no doubt his athletic tendencies are beginning to fade.
Several sources are questioning whether King James in on the decline. More notably from scout’s statements to ESPN: “The LeBron who could dunk on any player at any time is probably gone. He’s probably never been a better basketball player than he is right now, though.”
One could certainly make that case, especially since we don’t see James soaring through the air for empathic finishes as often as he used to. It could also be because James is 29 and nearing the period where most athletically-gifted players begin to slow down. He even understands the speculations, but believes his game has expanded since his athleticism has taken a step back.
“It’s funny you say that because a family member of mine sent me the same message you just talked about,” James said recently. “You can look at it in a bad way or a good way. I’ve expanded the rest of my game. I’m still out there making plays. My athleticism — obviously I’m not the 18-year-old kid that I was before — but, I can still do the things I need to do to be successful.”
James’ claims of an expanding game are definitely true. He has an improved jumpshot, understands how to use his body more than ever, attacks the basket at an unbelievable rate, has a more improved post game and is still one of the most elite playmakers the game has ever seen. While his athleticism early on revolutionized the game of basketball, he still possesses the ability and natural instincts to be the best player in the NBA. Even if his soaring ability has slowed down a bit, he will still throw down the dunks to remind everyone, he can still do what he wants.
It’ll be interesting to see James in the last stages of his career, where he is no longer in conversations of the most athletic players in the NBA. He’s a man of many hats so, to no surprise, he’ll remain successful.