LeBron James has faced a lot of criticism in his career. Not least, people accuse him of holding back in games and managing the load. In short, he can sometimes be a little relaxed in defence and sometimes he will take a few possessions off. It often means that other people have a regular season. Yet, when it matters, there is no doubting that LeBron James is special. He claims that when there is a game on the line, you don’t want anyone else on the court. He is the most complete player – and who would dare disagree with him.
Therefore, with this acknowledgement of the criticisms he faces, we are now going to indulge ourselves by looking at the amazing qualities of the star that is LeBron James.
He can choose his position
When you look up Lebron James’ player bio it tells you that he is a Power Forward and Point Guard and Small Forward and Shooting Guard. Even as he grows older, when most plates move down a position, Lebron will instead go wherever you ask him to play. He has enough court intelligence to adapt to playing wherever he pleases. This sort of versatility can be the making of a franchise – and his time at the Lakers has certainly shown this.
He turns up when it matters
Throughout the 2019-20 season, it seemed a certainty that Gianni would be named MVP. Let’s face it, Gianni turns up every game. He is the most consistent and dedicated player, giving all his talent all the time. However, LeBron has that special something that means when the pressure ramps up, he comes out to play even more. He does not believe in hiding from the big moment. Just check out the games to the end of the regular season, just before the shutdown, when all was on the line and LeBron put himself forward as a candidate for MVP once more. When he chooses, he can elevate his standard, move up the gears, and quite simply become the best player that ever played.
He is stronger, faster, and more agile
The full potential of LeBron’s experience and physicality came together in a perfect storm. He had his first serious injury in the 55th game of the 18/19 season. Let’s not get lost in the fact that the first time he needed to sit out of games was 17 seasons into his career – a formidable physique to withstand so many years of battle. However, this season was one where he played the fewest number of games in a year. He had a more extended time away from the court and came back just as he was joined at the Lakers by Anthony Davis. A new era of exciting offensive play with a solid defensive coach was met with a LeBron James who was physically rested and ready to up his game to a new level.
When you meet Lebron James on the court you will be awed by his presence. He has a physicality that makes you feel dwarfed – he can spin you in circles and bump you off a play. You could argue his management of the workload in a game allows him to maintain this speed, strength and agility. When you are playing in your 18th season, you understand how to play it smart and exert your influence when it really matters.
He is smart
There are players out there with the same skills and physical presence on the court. However, they lack awareness of the space around them. They do not see the big picture of the court; do not plot the map of passes and shots; do not see the potential weaknesses in the opposition and exert pressure in these areas. Therefore, they have limited influence over the game.
LeBron James is smart. When we say he is the complete player, we are not really talking about his shooting stats or his rebound scores. We are talking about his ability to orchestrate and lead the other players, using his intelligence for the game. James has beaten more teams with his brain than his physical presence on the court. He outthinks the opposing team.
He is a team-mate and leader
When Caldwell-Pope was in severe difficulty, having to spend some time in jail for breaking probation, LeBron stood by his team-mate. James knows what it is like to receive a constant stream of criticism and chose to stand by his fellow Lakers’ player. He made it clear that they were brothers and brothers stood by each other. Caldwell-Pope is clear that his upturn in form and presence on the court is a direct result of the influence of Lebron James. Good players can influence a game with their play. Legendary players can make the team around them play beyond their potential because they are on the court. LeBron James is one of these players.
It can’t be a coincidence that the Lakers are contenders for this year’s championship after 6 years of drought. Sure, Anthony Davis has had a significant influence on the success of the team – but the finger needs to point directly at the power and presence of the superstar Lebron James. He is sure to get another ring sometime soon.