The Los Angeles Lakers are a tire fire. That much is certain. But through the clouds of smoke engulfing the Lakers on a near-nightly basis, LeBron James is doing things no other player his age has dreamed about.
At 37 years old, LeBron could very well win his second scoring title. In a league infiltrated by younger stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic, nevertheless. And that’s despite playing on a team that will be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs at best.
LA’s lack of overall success is one reason James isn’t getting MVP recognition, but there’s another. According to Nick Wright of Fox Sports 1, LeBron’s 19th-year brilliance has been hurt by the GOAT in another sport, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
LeBron James is having a historic 19th season
It hasn’t been a perfect 2021-22 campaign for James. The King has missed 18 of LA’s 68 games, his second straight year sitting out for long stretches due to injuries. But it’s hard to ignore his brilliance when he’s on the court.
In 50 games, James is averaging 29.7 points on 52.3% shooting. That places him tied with Giannis for second in the NBA behind Joel Embiid’s 29.9 points. He’s also pulling down 8.2 rebounds and dishing out 6.2 assists per game.
Keep in mind, LeBron is now in his 19th season. Previously, the record for most points scored in year 19 belonged to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who in 1987-88 averaged 14.6 points at 40 years old. But even Kareem, the league’s all-time scoring leader, didn’t average what James is doing now when he was 37 years of age.
In fact, the last season Abdul-Jabbar averaged over 29.7 points was 1974-75, his final campaign with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Barring anything unforeseen, James will surpass Karl Malone in the coming days as the NBA’s second-highest scorer. From there, the King (currently at 36,854 points) will have only Kareem (38,387) to pass. The way he’s looking now, it seems like his place atop the throne is inevitable.
Nick Wright believes Tom Brady is making fans care less about LeBron’s accomplishments
Retired, unretired, whatever the case may be: Tom Brady is the greatest QB ever to take the field. And he’s proven that well into his 40’s.
Two seasons ago, Brady left the New England Patriots for the Bucs. At 43 years old, all he managed to do was throw for 40 touchdowns and guide Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl victory, the seventh ring of his illustrious career. Last year, the 44-year-old simply led the NFL with 43 touchdowns and 5,316 yards.
Needless to say, we sports fans expect a lot from our old guys now.
FS1’s Nick Wright joined The Colin Cowherd Podcast and explained how Brady’s greatness has directly impacted our overall view on the 37-year-old James.
“I actually think [Cowherd’s] guy Tom Brady, in a weird way, has caused people to appreciate LeBron’s season a little less. Because Brady won a Super Bowl at 43 [and] was a leading candidate for league MVP at age 44. So I think people are like, ‘Yeah, this is the era of old athletes dominating.’ But we’ve never seen anything close to this in the NBA. Nothing close to it previously.”Nick Wright
Most superstar athletes have primes, with the best of the best showing their excellence for around 10 seasons. James and Brady have each been at it around 20, showing no signs of slowing down.
The big difference between Brady and James is team success
Wright is correct in saying fans aren’t giving James enough due for what he’s accomplishing in his 19th season. But the future Hall of Famer would easily receive Brady-level treatment if he was delivering the Lakers to the promised land.
Tom Terrific isn’t just the GOAT because he’s the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He’s the GOAT because of the seven rings displayed in his trophy case. From his early days in New England to his current days in Tampa Bay, Brady has always won in a league that is chalked full of new and exciting quarterbacks.
James has four rings, more than enough for him to be in the NBA GOAT conversation. But while Brady is leading the once-dormant Bucs to new heights, LeBron is wasting away on a 29-39 team that may barely qualify for a play-in spot. That’s after losing in the first round last year and missing the playoffs altogether in 2018-19.
So while the public perception of LeBron may be somewhat influenced by Brady, a successful Lakers season could have easily changed that.