We are less than a week from the beginning of the 2023-2024 NBA season. It’ll be LeBron James’ 21st season in the “A,” and we’re set to witness an unprecedented 21st campaign. It’s my opinion that we won’t ever see an athlete like James again.
Normally, a basketball player by their 21st season is, well, retired. The select few that have crossed such a threshold certainly don’t play up to the level that they had prior. But my awe of this season isn’t only influenced by the efficient play that we’ll see this season. My awe also stems from all the other facets in which I believe James’ legacy will be difficult to match.
Coming off the heels of a 20th season where he set the all-time NBA scoring record, James averaged 28.9 points per game. Going into year 21, it isn’t expected that we’d see a huge drop-off in that production. According to Statmuse, Vince Carter currently holds the record for the highest point per game total in year 21. That record stands at 7.4 points per game. And there’s much to be said about that because, in his prime, Vince Carter was an awe-inspiring talent. But just imagine how LeBron will grind that record into dust in the upcoming season. He is a one-of-one in the game of basketball.
But as much as James exceeds on the court, he, like others has succeeded off the court as well. From where I sit, he clearly has taken a page out of Magic Johnson’s playbook. He displays similar business acumen. James has involved himself in a bevy of endeavors that lend itself to players controlling their own narratives. These include shows like The Shop on YouTube and his brand Uninterrupted. There is where you can find unique apparel, as well as unique documentary content. He also has other productions produced by his Springhill Company.
Then there’s the world of education. James established his “I Promise” school in his home city of Akron. He seeks to inspire children in his hometown. The giveback has been real, and it has been abundant. If there has been anyone who has provided “actionable items” in efforts to affect change, James has done it.
Then and still, that’s not the variable that truly sets him apart. The uniqueness of LeBron is the ways he has used his platform to influence social consciousness. It’s probably the greatest confounding variable among transcendent athletes in this country. There’s a bevy of discussions that have been had in regards to how this all came to be. Some folks say that the era we’re in encourages such activism. In the era of Michael Jordan, there was discussion that activism wasn’t worth the loss of the bag. Others would counter this by citing that in the era of Bill Russell, it didn’t seem to be the case. I’d say given the climate of that era, Black people probably thought that way more was at stake. Maybe risking the bag just didn’t matter to them in the ’60s.
But that’s really my whole point. I can’t remember a time in which James seemed like he didn’t want to use his voice for the greater good. He has always seemed like he wanted to raise the bar in that respect. It’s important to highlight that one of the best ways to utilize your voice is when you’re relevant. It has been the dedication to greatness for James that has allowed this to be the case for two decades now.
When it’s all said and done, records are made to be broken right? Albeit, this topic not being so much of a record. To quote JAY-Z, I just can’t fathom another talent being “this good, for this long.” As we embark on the NBA’s 77th season, let us marvel at LeBron James’ 21st. When he hits the floor, we’re literally watching history, every night. And I, for one, will have my eyes glued. After all, I am a witness.