The 2016-2017 NBA season will be the 14th of LeBron James’s career. LeBron is now 31, and he has more mileage on his body than an 18-wheeler that’s made multiple cross country trips; so the question of when his athleticism will begin to decline will inevitably follow him for the rest of his career, or until it actual does.
The last few years of Kobe Bryant’s career, marred by injuries and a game limited to jump shots and bad 3-point attempts, are fresh on people’s minds, but LeBron is a completely different specimen. Physically, he dwarfs Kobe, and in terms of major injuries suffered, there’s no contest. During his first 11 seasons in the NBA, LeBron never missed more than seven regular season games. In 2014, his first year back for his second tour of duty with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he took a much publicized two-week break to heal an ailing back, but he returned with vengeance. Unlike Kobe, LeBron has never suffered a major injury or ligament tear, a huge boon to his ability to prolong his career as an effective player.
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LeBron staunchly believes in himself. In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, he claimed he’s not yet begun that fateful decline down the mountain of failing athleticism. LeBron said, “I know I’m on the other side of the hill, about to be 14 [years in the league], but I’m not going down the hill right now. I’m still climbing.”
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Given his work ethic, it’s no wonder that LeBron feels that way. After winning his third NBA championship, he spent of the off-season working out on his new love, the VersaClimber, a machine he often posts about via his Instagram account. With his body still in immaculate shape, barring any future injuries, it’s not hard to envision LeBron being a productive basketball player deep into his 30s.