Dont’t let the numbers fool you, this is not a normal year for LeBron James.
To the naked eye, 27.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 8 assists per game on 51% shooting certainly seem well enough. After all, it is LeBron we are talking about here.
For perhaps the first time in his illustrious NBA career, there’s a darker truth behind the stats.
A season full of eye-rolling, lackluster defensive efforts, and a nagging groin injury has derailed what used to look like a promising season for LeBron and his new team. Looking beyond the numbers, this has been a terrible year for The King, one that will likely result in a missed postseason berth.
This will finally bring about the end of a string of famous LeBron James streaks.
The first to go will obviously be the 14-year-long consecutive playoff appearance streak. With 7 games separating the team from the coveted 8th spot out West, and only 15 games left in the season, there’s almost no chance they make the postseason now. Obviously, if James fails to make the playoffs, his surreal 8-straight Finals streak will come to an end as well, marking the first time since 2010 that the Championship games will not include the 15x All-Star.
Unfortunately, this season will also strip LeBron of another streak he has previously held a tight grip over for the past 12 years. Considering the seasons both Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo have put up, they are the primary candidates to be selected to the All-NBA first-team. Meaning, for the first time since 2006, LeBron would not be on the first-team, putting an end to the legendary 12-year run.
So what does this all mean? It means LeBron’s dominance over the NBA has ended, at least for now. But, as NBA.com’s Sekou Smith puts it, the break might be exactly what LeBron James needs.
All of LeBron’s streaks come to an end. The playoffs, Finals and, yes, that first team All-NBA streak he’s kept in a vice grip all these years. There’s no shame in falling back this season. I’m not one to knock LeBron this season, even though I know it’s the convenient thing for some people to do. This break from LeBron ruining the NBA narrative from training camp to The Finals will be interesting. If anyone has earned the time it’s LeBron. The time away will do wonders for his mental and physical well being, not to mention serve as the great motivator for the 34-year-old veteran who needs something to crank his engine during the offseason.
No doubt, this year did not pan out how James and Laker Nation had hoped. Injuries, leaked trade rumors, and an awkward roster of misfits doomed them way before spring even started.
Now, with James’ streaks (and his run atop the league) ending, there is no place for him to look but forward. Even though it looks like he headed downward now, it is not wise to count him out for a major comeback next season. He has earned that right, at least.