INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – By the time the 2017-18 NBA MVP is announced, LeBron James will be just about halfway to age 34.
In his 15th season in the league, James is having his best statistical season, and is in a two-man race for MVP alongside James Harden of Houston.
LeBron’s aging has been beyond graceful, but if he were to take home the individual hardware, he would become the third player to win the MVP at 33 or older. All three instances happened from 1997 to 1999 when Michael Jordan broke up Karl Malone’s two awards.
It has always been about team success for LeBron, but even on an individual level, the impact he seeks on his legacy would be about more than just himself.
“I want to kind of try to break the mold for the next generation,” he told reporters at shootaround on Saturday. “Just kind of take the narrative out of ‘you’re past your prime when you get 31,’ or ‘you’re past your prime when you’re in your 12th year in the league,’ or whatever the case may be. Hopefully I can break the mold, so when the next guy comes, he can still get two-hundred, three-hundred million and be 33-years-old.”
James eclipsed that $200 million mark for player salary last season, with a $30 million paycheck from the Cavaliers, and will continue to sign for the max through what could be the next three or more years.
With the increasing salary cap, young stars could see their income hit that mark even sooner than James, despite the extra season they are held out of the league relative to his career.
LeBron’s talent remains unmatched, but his record of health may be almost as untouchable. At just 32, James has played the 26th most minutes of all time and 2nd most playoff minutes ever. He missed 20 games in 2011-12, but has missed no more than 13 in each of his other 14 seasons.
If anyone wants to replicate LeBron’s career income, they will have to perform at their highest level through their mid-30s like him as well.
Not everyone can take care of their bodies like James, and few will feel like he does at his age.
“I’ll be 33 in… (14) days, this is my 15th season, and this is the best I’ve felt in my career,” he said. “I want it all.”