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NBA: James in top form before play-in: “A Swiss army knife”

NBA: James in top form before play-in: “A Swiss army knife”

In 2023, the Lakers also had to compete in the play-in before the NBA playoffs and were only stopped by the eventual champions in the Conference Finals. This time superstar LeBron James wants more.

LeBron James was everywhere. In the Los Angeles Lakers’ 123:108 win against the New Orleans Pelicans, the 39-year-old basketball superstar was the main reason for the dominance of the NBA record champions. 28 points, 17 assists, 11 rebounds, 5 steals and a block – the Lakers’ versatile number 6 played basketball at his best on Sunday and impressed in every aspect of the game.

“I’m a Swiss army knife,” James said after the game, which was a signal to all Lakers fans and a warning to all Pelicans fans. Because on the German night of Wednesday (1.30 a.m. CEST) both teams will meet again in the play-in in the same hall.

New Orleans Williamson: “They dominated us”

With a win, the Pelicans would have defended sixth place in the Western Conference and prevented the additional game on the way to the playoffs. However, against the Lakers, who had been in strong form for weeks, the home team did not take the lead once and was 32 points behind at one point. Under the basket, “they did whatever they wanted. They dominated us,” admitted Pelicans star Zion Williamson. He only scored 12 points, his average is 23. Who defended him above all? LeBron James, 16 years older.

The encounter in New Orleans marked the end of the 21st NBA main round in the career of the superstar, who for many fans and experts ranks first ahead of Michael Jordan in the rankings of the best players in history. Hardly anyone expects his career to end after the playoffs, but LeBron James’ career won’t last much longer. “I don’t know when this door will close and I’ll end my career, but I don’t have much time left,” he said just two weeks ago. “I’m already on the other side of the mountain. I won’t be playing for 21 years, that’s for damn sure.”

The list of his achievements is impressive and raises the question: who should surpass this proud record? James was named to the league’s All-Star team 20 times – more than any other basketball player. He won the NBA title four times. He was named most valuable player in the finals four times and most valuable player in the main round four times. James scored 40,474 points in NBA main round games, where he is also alone at the top: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, record holder for decades, ended his career with 38,387 points. He also has the most points in the playoffs, an incredible 2,036 more than Michael Jordan. Added to this are the Olympic victories in 2008 and 2012.

James wants to play with his son Bronny

For James, it could be the last chance for a second championship in the Lakers’ jersey – because his contract is expiring and it is up to him whether he takes up the option for another season for a salary of 51 million US dollars. In the fall, the record champions became the first NBA team to win the title in the new in-season tournament, but what counts is the Larry O’Brien Cup, which will be awarded in June.

James has expressed several times that he wants to play on a team with his son Bronny before retiring. He is 19 years old, has completed his first season at college and has registered for the NBA draft, in which teams secure the transfer rights to young players. So, in theory, dad James could play for the team that selects his son next season. In practical terms, according to most experts, Bronny is not yet at the level to have a real chance in the NBA – and would be better advised to gain another year or two of experience at college or in a professional league outside the USA to improve his game.

Bronny may have his father’s genes – but someone like LeBron James, who moved to the NBA straight out of high school 21 years ago and has been performing at an incredible level ever since, only exists once. Next appearance: New Orleans.

Source: Stern

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