When the Los Angeles Lakers lost to Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, NBA legend LeBron James hinted that his time in the game might finally have come to an end.
He said: “I got a lot to think about. Just personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about,” confirming afterwards that he was talking about potentially retiring. After spending some time doing that thinking, it’s turned out that James wasn’t ready to walk away from the court yet.
He announced this week at the ESPYs that he will be back for his 21st NBA season, saying: “I don’t care how many more points I score, or what I can or cannot do on the floor. The real question for me is, ‘Can I play without cheating this game?’ The day I can’t give the game everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.”
James showed no signs of slowing down last season, averaging 28.9 points last season, which, incredibly is slightly up from his career average of 27.2 per game while he also averaged 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists in over 35 minutes.
He was at the ESPYs to be honored for Best Record-Breaking Performance and this next season gives him plenty more chances to claim further records. He’ll turn 39 in December and if he maintains his 2022-23 season form he could achieve plenty of best-ever numbers for a player of that age.
He could also take the record he currently shares with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for having 19 All-Star appearances in NBA history, if he can get a 20th All-Star appearance, as well as the first player to make 20 All-NBA Teams – he’s currently tied with Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.
He already claimed one major record earlier this year, moving past Abdul-Jabbar to become the all-time leading scorer in the NBA on February 7 in a 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. That record had stood for James’s entire life, having been set 8 months before he was born.
One record he won’t be able to touch next season would be Abdul-Jabbar’s 57,446 minutes, but he could certainly move into second place on the all-time list ahead of Karl Malone if he stays fit and gets regular minutes.
With that kind of longevity come plenty of other opportunities for records and James is close to having taken the most shots of any NBA player ever. He’s currently 263 shots behind Abdul-Jabbar and can move into top spot if he keeps up his 22.2 shot attempts average from last season.
Despite his hints after the Nuggets loss, few people had expected James to actually walk away from the court at this stage. In January he had made it clear that he wanted to keep on playing until at least the time when he can share the court with his son Bronny James, who would be eligible for the NBA Draft next year, meaning his dad would need to play into the 2024-25 season.
Written and distributed by Chat T Sports.