Lebron James set a season-high for points scored on Saturday night.
Lebron James is 37 years old. He has been in the NBA since 2003 after the Cleveland Cavaliers picked him first overall in the NBA draft.
After winning Championships with the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, James' legacy is set in his sport. But he is also someone who transcends basketball. His Space Jam follow-up may have been a flop and a shameless two-hour advertisement for his brand, but James' on-court shows are still spectacular.
On Saturday night, the Lakers welcomed the Golden State Warriors to downtown Los Angeles. With Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford courtside, James scored 56 points, more than anyone else in the league this year, had 10 rebounds and three assists.
Only four players in NBA history have scored 50 points in a game at 37 years of age or older. Michael Jordan scored 51 in 2001, Kobe Bryant scored 60 in 2016 and Jamal Crawford scored 51 in 2019.
But James didn't just score 50+ points. He did so efficiently, going 19 of 31 on field goal attempts. For comparison, Bryant scored 60 points in 2016 by hitting 22 of 50 field goal attempts. James dragged a Lakers team that was missing Anthony Davis past one of the best teams in the league.
LEBRON IS GOING OFF‼️ pic.twitter.com/W4fSq4YrXM
— ESPN (@espn) March 6, 2022
One of the amazing aspects of James' career is how he has aged. Despite playing a huge number of games over his career, James has had very few injuries. He's never had a major injury or season-ending injury. And his athleticism has maintained into his late thirties.
James is still able to play above the rim. Most players his age rely on shooting or passing to be effective.
In the above clip you can see James sprint forward on the fastbreak leaving Klay Thompson in his wake. He then rises above the rim to extend and throw down a one-handed alley-oop. This is the type of play that made James a human-highlight reel in high school before he even reached the NBA.
⭐ SHOWTIME in LA ⭐
LeBron put on a SHOW in front of the @Lakers home crowd, dropping 16 of his 5️⃣6️⃣ points in the fourth-quarter to seal the win for the #LakeShow!@KingJames: 56 PTS (19-31 FGM), 10 REB, 6 3PM pic.twitter.com/hePuo8LPgD
— NBA (@NBA) March 6, 2022
James spent the early years of his career attacking the rim and driving the lane. He was always a great passer and rebounder too. But as he aged and became less explosive he developed a better shot. Now he's able to put together rounded performances such as Saturday night's that feature clutch three-point shots as well as highlight dunks.
This was the third-highest scoring game of James' career, matching a number he put up for the Cavaliers when he was just 20 years old.
The Lakers are the ninth seed in the Western Conference. James is doing everything he can to drag a bad team into the last playoff spot. In this form, it's hard to bet against him.