LeBron James Wants to Change Narrative on Players' Primes Ending Early

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, drives against Utah Jazz's Alec Burks (10) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Cleveland.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James said Saturday he hopes he can change the perception of when a player is in his prime given his own longevity, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com:

"Team success is always the No. 1, but along the way if you're able accomplish some individual awards, individual achievements, it would mean a lot. I feel good. This is my 15th year, but this is one of the best years I've had as far as how I feel, and I want to continue that. I want to kind of try to break the mold for the next generation. So just take the narrative out of, 'OK, you're past your prime when you get [to] 31, or you're past your prime in your 12th year in the league, or whatever the case may be.'

"Hopefully I can break the mold, so when the next guy comes, he can still get $200 or $300 million and be 33 years old. I'm serious. You guys are laughing, I'm serious. This is the mold I'm trying to break. It's not just about me, it's for the next crew, as well...I'll be 33 in 15 days. This is my 15th season, and this is the best I've felt in my career. I want it all."

James has been superb this season and is among the front-runners for MVP.

He's averaging 28.1 points, 9.1 assists and 8.4 rebounds per game, playing 37.2 minutes per game and shooting a career-best 40.7 percent from three. He's already posted five triple-doubles on the season and has led the Cavaliers to 17 wins in their last 18 games after a rocky start.

He's also played in seven straight NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Cavaliers and eight in total during his career, a remarkable run of consistency and dominance in the sport. Yes, James is just 3-5 in those Finals appearances, but to remain at the pinnacle of the sport for such a sustained period is nothing short of incredible.

Suffice to say, if there's a player capable of transforming the concept and framework of a player's "prime," well, it's James.

On the other hand, the level of play he's displaying in his 15th season isn't normal.

"It's tough to [compare]," Kevin Love said, per Friedell. "Knowing the history of the game, in their 15th year, I don't know if anybody's gone about it like this and dominated night in and night out and done it so effectively and so efficiently. It's tough to really put into words what he's able to do on a nightly basis."

James' head coach, Tyronn Lue, attributed the superstar's prolonged success to his work ethic and ability to evolve as a player.

"...It's a tribute to him [for] taking care of his body, doing all the right things, eating healthy, stretching, getting his treatment, and then putting the work in. I think as he's gotten older, he's added that three-point shot to his game the last couple years. And when he's making that shot, it opens up everything else for him."

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