When it comes to LeBron James, you don’t have to squint to see milestones being made with practically every step. In part, it’s due to longevity; he has been toiling in the National Basketball Association since 2003, so he will invariably be amassing big numbers and surpassing those of others en route. In larger measure, it’s due to consistency; his stats year after year have been outstanding, and — even at 33 with considerable wear and tear in his body — actually improving. Not for nothing will he be posting career highs in his regular-season rebound and assist averages, and not for nothing has he reinserted himself into Most Valuable Player discussions after (unfairly) being left out last year.
Not all of James’ firsts through the 2017-2018 campaign have been good, to be sure. Among the negatives was his first ejection in a career then spanning 1,083 outings. That said, they have, for the most part, been historic. Early this year, he became the seventh, and youngest, player to generate 30,000 points. He then averaged a triple-double for a whole month, a feat he hadn’t yet accomplished; during the February game in which he clinched the mark, he likewise became the first in league history to compile at least 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 8,000 assists. And though yesterday’s match, he has scored in double digits an all-time-record 872 consecutive instances.
Needless to say, James’ myriad contributions propel the Cavaliers’ competitiveness. Without him, they’re mediocre at best and would be hard pressed to make the playoffs, let alone claim homecourt advantage in the first round. It’s why he has personal streaks of 10 straight Division titles and seven straight Finals appearances; the former is unmatched by any other in hoops annals, while the latter is exceeded only by the dynastic Celtics during the Bill Russell era.
Which, all told, underscores James’ status as the most coveted player in the NBA. It’s why franchises design free agency moves with him in mind, and why he affects fans either way with his decisions. He has seen fit to describe himself as fine wine, and he’s right. Age has seasoned him extremely well, and it’s a testament to his unparalleled skill and capacity to make those around him better that his best looks to be yet to come. Tomorrow, he is poised to complete a full season without missing a single contest for the first time ever. After that, anything is possible; with him, fans believe, and even critics concede, that his greatness knows no limits.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.