Happy birthday LeBron James

LeBron James turned 38 yesterday. He has been in the NBA for almost twenty (debuted on October 29, 2003). He therefore carries more time in the League than outside of it (7,128 of its 13,880 days of existence). He is a few weeks away from becoming the top scorer in history and, if nothing unusual happens, being all star for the nineteenth time (in a row, moreover), which will already put him ahead of Kobe Bryant and at the level, also there, of Kareem. Basically the question with him is already only if he is best or second best ever, something that has his fans and those of Michael Jordan entangled in a debate that is not always healthy. In any case, the two in a territory in which only Kareem seems to also have his corner.

LeBron does so many things and his excellence is taken for granted that debates with him tend to go the other way, always with a magnifying glass and fine print. whatA player who has been averaging at least 25 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for 19 years in a row can continue to surprise us? One who in his 20th season basically nails (27.8, 8.8, 6.6) his career averages (27.1, 7.5, 7.3)? The greatness of this player has reached an overwhelming level, the measure of those things so valuable that, when they pass, we will always remember having seen. A hammer blow, one of the main ones, in the shelled coffin of these Lakers in paralysis, unable to give weapons with which to compete to the couple that LeBron forms with Anthony Davis, one that although in his franchise they have chosen to forget it, won a ring two years ago as soon as he had a good coach and a good batch of secondary players around him. For them, for those who rule (Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka…) games like this one in Atlanta they should be more cause for shame than joy. Whether it is a problem of not knowing what to do or not wanting to do it.

Because in Atlanta (121-130 for the Lakers), LeBron finished with 47 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. He only scored 2 points in the first quarter, when things looked as ugly as usual for his team (33-23, which was 54-39 halfway through the second quarter). In the next three he went to 16, 13 and 16, with a final exhibition, triples and penetrations, that ensured an improbable victory for their Lakers, what’s left? at 15-21, thirteenth in the West and in an agonizing race not to lose at least the wake of the play in, in case Anthony Davis returns soon.

Acclaimed by the public with shouts of ‘MVP’ and exclamations of true admiration during a truly Herculean stretch of the fourth quarter, LeBron celebrated his birthday with the second best scorer at least 38 years old. The best (51 points) is shared by Michael Jordan and Jamal Crawford. Jordan and LeBron are already the only ones who, at that age or older, have had a game of at least 45 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. And, for those who like statistics freaksLeBron is already too (for breaking records that is not left) the player with the most points on his birthday. Until today, the top was Oscar Robertson’s 275. He has put the mark at 303.

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Thomas Bryant (19 points, 17 rebounds) has been another of the few good news from the Lakers in recent games in which Patrick Beverley (10 points, 3 assists) is showing signs of life for the first time and Schröder (12+9) and Russell Westbrook pushed who, with his usual whirlwind of hits and misses, ended up 14+8+11 with 6 losses. But it all started and ended, with more than 40 minutes on the court and 18/27 shooting, for a LeBron who had been in doubt until the last minute due to an ankle problem. Goodness.

Lakers relief and ode to LeBron shouldn’t hide the disaster of the Hawks, now 17-19 and in ninth position in the East, with only one game ahead of the first without play in. Any option that this season, with the firm commitment to Dejounte Murray, would look more like 2020-21 (Conference final) than 2021-22 (tough water and first-round elimination) is evaporating. The noble zone of the East moves away, the sensations worsen, Trae Young is questioned as a franchise player (as project leader) and hours before this game news came out that Nate McMillan had thought of leaving the bench now. And that, in any case, his path will end at the end of this season… if he even gets there. The Hawks have already moved the management chart recently and are a franchise in constant search after seeming, two years ago, a growing alternative. They are not, powerless against these weak Lakers to take advantage of their initial advantages, their 67 points at halftime. Trae, who hurt his knee after a 13-point first quarter, finished with 29 and 8 assists but no outside aim. Murray with 20+7+9 and Bogdanovic with 17 points. But the formula doesn’t work and the season is on the way to disappointment for the team and its fans, who at least were able to applaud LeBron James while he blew out the candles with 47 points. At 38 years old and carrying a broken team. What more could you ask for.

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