LeBron James has never been one to lack perspective. A lengthy NBA career with lots of ups and downs on and off the court has provided him with plenty of experiences and the ability to compartmentalize aspects of the game, or of a whole season.
So, while the Lakers are mired in a year that has been bordering a disaster for quite some time, LeBron is enjoying himself. And while he could have long given up on a season that hasn’t gone the way anyone hoped, he is still committed to the group, making performances like the one he had on Monday night possible.
“I could care less about what the narrative about our team is,” James said. “At my point in my career I don’t get involved in that stuff. I don’t read about it, I don’t hear it too much. I go home, drink wine or drink tequila every night and if I’m at my house in LA I’m watching a movie with the kids or I’m playing Madden. None of that (narrative) stuff matters to me.
“I’m having a blast playing the game of basketball. Like I said the other night, I get frustrated and angry from losses and things we could have done better and things of that nature, but shit, I mean once I leave the arena I’ll leave it there.”
By staying committed to a team that still seems destined for a play-in game exit, James has put together one of the best stretches of his career. Over the last 21 games, James is averaging 31.7 points on 53.3% shooting from the field. In his long career, he’s never had a 21-game span of scoring 31 points per game and shooting at least 53% from the field.
Those may sound like arbitrary benchmarks a broadcast would use to make someone sound impressive, but they underscore that from a production standpoint and an efficiency standpoint, James is putting together quite possibly the best-ever stretch of his career. Considering the heights he’s reached, the length of said career and that he’s just one of the best to ever play the game, to have a stretch like that in year 19 in 2022 is remarkable.
“I’m literally having the time of my life right now,” James said. “The game is such a beautiful thing and as long as I’m healthy enough to put on a uniform, I’m gonna play with a lot of passion and a lot of energy and give my teammates what they deserve and what they need.
“Hopefully, for the rest of the season I can stay somewhat injury-free. Obviously, I’m dealing with a few injuries right now but I’m working through it, and we’re working through it,” James continued. “And that’s all that matters. We can leave everything on the floor. Control what you can control, and what you can’t you don’t worry about. That’s just my mindset.”
Is there a sometimes hilarious and depressing dichotomy between James having historic performances while the Lakers lose? Yes. In the aforementioned 21-game span that is one of the greatest of his career, the Lakers are 8-13 overall and have slipped down the standings to the point that it’s a question of whether they’ll stay in the play-in game.
But that James has remained all-in has allowed Lakers fans a chance to see one of the greats perform at the highest level, giving us all a chance to smile through it all while not believing this is our life.