document.write(''); LeBron Compliments Nikola Jokic's Big Basketball Brain, Considers Retirement - Simo Baha

LeBron Compliments Nikola Jokic’s Big Basketball Brain, Considers Retirement

It’s easy to become desensitized to constant superiority, so let’s present it to posterity. After his 20th season, in the 282nd game of the playoffs, LeBron James, 38, scored 31 points in the first half of Game 4 of the Western Conference. Conference finals on Monday.

It was the highest-scoring playoff half of James’ career, and aside from the three-pointer he unknowingly passed the hoop, it was Bron’s usual late-career repertoire. He reached the rim through mid-tempo drives or seamless reverses. He drew his foul shots and hit his light-burning three-pointer on the left side. James shot 11-of-13 from the field and the Lakers took a 15-game lead into halftime, which they were unable to protect in a 113-111 loss to the consistent dominance of Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, ending their postseason streak.

LeBron, 20, is limited not so much by his skills as by his health and four quarters. His upside is still astounding, but he can’t do the full feats of his youth, at least not with a Lakers roster so light on shots that it dilutes his threat and risk of playing the shot. He will finish with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. his final shot missed a double at the rim in the final seconds of the game.

After the buzzer, James went through some blatant handshakes and walked off the court. I was disappointed that he didn’t keep his shirt off his mouth and give Jokic some cryptic advice in his usual elder-statesman fashion, but he was probably still buzzing with nostalgia and feeling the sting of a rare sweep. James has lost just twice before, both in the NBA Finals to an underachieving Cavaliers team; as a 22-year-old on the dynastic Spurs in 2007, and as a 33-year-old on the dynastic Warriors in 2018. The Nuggets, set to make the franchise’s first Finals appearance, join this rarefied group.

While James didn’t say much on the court, he did rave about his opponent in the postgame presser. He said he consulted with his teammate Anthony Davis in the locker room and concluded that the Nuggets were the best team they had played in their time with the Lakers.

“They come together well. They’ve got goals, they’ve got shots, they’ve got playmaking, they’ve got intelligence, they’ve got length, they’ve got depth.” he said. “When you’ve got a guy like Joker, who’s as big as he is but as brainy as he is, you can’t really make too many mistakes against a guy like that. Even when you’re guarding him for one of the best possessions, you think you’ve guarded him, he puts the ball behind his head, Larry Bird-style, and it shoots 15 feet in the air and it goes in. James then literally tipped his hat. (He definitely thought of this one and this one ).

Comparing brains is probably the highest compliment a basketball mind like LeBron’s can pay a colleague. “Some of the guys in this league that play the game a certain way, a certain way that I like to play the game, too, and [Jokic is] one of them,” James said. “He sees plays before they happen. There aren’t many guys like that in our league. His stats are all revealed, but I don’t think a lot of people talk about this part of his game. [tapping temple], or maybe it’s not talked about because many people don’t understand. But I do. And he’s special.” The idea that no one is talking about Nikola Jokic’s basketball prowess is the latest in LeBron James’ storied history is a lie, but an important one nonetheless.

Another great Jamesian tradition is filling the empty NBA news cycle; it’s currently short of two conference finals shots, and he told ESPN after the game that he’s considering retirement. That’s hard to take at face value, given how many times he’s said his only NBA aspiration is to compete alongside his son Bronny, who will play at USC in the fall and enter the 2024 class. The elder James also said he is considering offseason surgery on a torn tendon in his foot in February, an injury he suffered after being assured of “the LeBron James of legs.” Playing in an NBA-record 282 playoff games adds a lot of extra mileage.

Maybe LeBron will take a year off to let his body recover. Maybe he’s just publicly putting pressure on the Lakers to shore up the roster this summer. In either scenario, I don’t think he’d give up the sight of his son appearing in his final NBA game. They’ll call it Replacement. It will be a lengthy Nike commercial.

Please register or login to continue.

See all subscription options.

Source link