If there was one thing to take away from the words of those who have played with or against LeBron James, it just how special a talent he truly is. James and the Lakers passed through New York this week as he chased the NBA’s all-time scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
That milestone will come sometime next week when the Lakers are back on the West Coast, but James’ trek into the Big Apple allowed those who know him here to reflect on James the accomplishments he has had over the course of his career. Not to mention the level he’s still playing at this year.
“I’ve been quoted on saying, ‘it’s hard to be LeBron James or any superstar in any entertainment, sport; athletic or business industry.’ All eyes are on you, but he’s handled it extremely well,” Kyrie Irving said on Monday night about his former teammate during their days in Clevland. “We gave the keys to the whole entire business to an 18-year-old kid and now he’s 38 years old and he’s still dominating. I don’t think we should be surprised. We should congratulate him and celebrate him as much as possible. Continue to enjoy the shows he’ll put on because it’s not going to be for too much longer.
“Whenever he decides to play. I’m enjoying the show and I wish we could’ve gotten the chance to play against one another. Who knows what could happen down the line?”
James was 117 points away from Abdul-Jabbar’s record going into Tuesday night’s game against the New York Knicks. James already owns four championship rings over the course of his career and he, as Irving said, was handed the keys to the NBA at the age of 18.
And the fact that he has reached the height that he has, didn’t appear to surprise Nets coach Jacque Vaughn who played six seasons against James.
“I think it’s a testament to what he’s been able to do,” Vaughn said. “I think at the end of the day, when you just look at the amount of years, that the totality of his ability to produce year after year against younger guys. Against a different group and competition of new people who come into the league, people who were establishing the league. … And so you look at all the names that he played against during that time. And he’s continuing to play. … Facts are just unbelievable when you strip it down and look at just the sheer number of years and the ability for him to produce. I’m not sure we see it again.”
What has impressed James’ current head coach Darvin Ham has been the totality of it all. He called being along for the ride with James during the chase for the NBA scoring record “awesome” and marveled at James’ career.
Similarly to Vaughn, Ham had briefly played against James when he first came into the league.
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” What he’s been able to do both on and off the floor with his brand. To the example he set, not just for young basketball players, but for human beings everywhere, just the way he carries himself in a professional manner in which he takes care of his business. It’s been awesome. And for me, personally, I mean, I just thank God every day just being here with him on this ride with him.”
He added: ” It’s been great. Something I’ll cherish forever.”