LeBron James had a huge year this season after missing some games towards the end of the last campaign due to a groin injury. People expected his downfall and doubted he’d be as explosive as ever, and once again The King proved his doubters wrong.
Even if he had 5 months to fully heal his body prior to the restart of the season, James went back to playing his heart off in the defensive end of the floor as he did earlier in his career. He drew some criticism for his lack of commitment in defense over the past couple of seasons, so he made sure to get back to his former self in 2020.
That defensive expertise was in full display during the playoffs. Moreover, Lakers’ assistant coach Mike Penberthy recently revealed to Lakers Daily that he even asked to guard Jimmy Butler during Game 6 of the NBA Finals, even if that meant playing 48 minutes:
“LeBron says, ‘Coach, I want to guard Jimmy [Butler]. I want to match his minutes. I feel like I need to match up with him the whole game. I don’t want anybody else to guard him. I want to guard Jimmy Butler.’ That’s leadership in a nutshell right there. You just basically said, ‘I’m going to be the best player in the game and I’m gonna guard the other team’s best player and that’s what we’re going to do.’ So, that tells you a little bit about him. He was going in that morning to say, ‘I got Jimmy Butler and I’m going to play 48 minutes if I have to.’ We didn’t have to play 48 (laughs). The game was over in 24, but that tells you a lot right there,” Penberthy said.
James was everywhere in the NBA Finals. He was leading the break in one end and getting chase down blocks on the other, just like he did when he first entered the league.
That’s a true testament of leadership and of just how great care he takes of his body, and to be able to perform at that level at 35-years-old is just something almost unprecedented in the history of the game.