After an injury-filled 2018-19 campaign that saw his Los Angeles Lakers finish outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, LeBron James heard all of the talk over the offseason. That he was washed up. That Father Time had finally caught up with him. That Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has taken over the title of the game’s best player.
Yeah, James heard all the talk, and now he’s using it as motivation to prove his doubters wrong. Through eight games this season, James’ Lakers are 7-1, and James himself is putting up some incredible numbers. He’s averaging 26.0 points, 10.5 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
“It’s just my personal motivation,” James said of the external doubt, via ESPN. “I’m extra motivated to put myself in a position where I know I belong. It’s my personal motivation every single night to be on the floor and be great I know the summer that I had. I know the rehab that I had with my groin.
“I shot ‘Space Jam 2’ for three months all summer. My call time every morning was at 6:30 in the morning, and I was in the gym at like 3:30, 4 o’clock in the morning before shooting for 12, 13, 14 hours. So I just know how much I put into my craft, I know what the main thing is. Even when I was shooting the movie, I know what was most important. And that’s me getting ready for the fall, and I always had that in the front of my mind. So it’s just my personal pressure that I’m putting on myself. Which is, I don’t really believe in pressure much, but I believe in myself and I know what I’m capable of.”
James will turn 35 in December, but he doesn’t plan to take any nights off, unless he’s injured, despite the fact that rest for healthy stars — or “load management” — is becoming increasingly common in the NBA today. He knows that his days without basketball will be coming soon enough.
“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” James said. “That’s what has always been my motto… I’m healthy, I play. I probably got a good 45 years to not play basketball.”
Considering his age and the miles on his body, one would think that James would be an ideal candidate for load management. However, James clearly wants to maximize the time that he has left playing the game that he loves, especially while he still appears to be near the peak of his powers.