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|LeBron James emerged from a chaotic Womens Tyler Eifert Jersey , complex season unscathed – better than ever.
Still the NBA’s undisputed king.
Despite no longer having Kyrie Irving at his side. Despite an injury-riddled season in which the Cavaliers‘ roster morphed twice and despite being surrounded by a supporting cast that included rookies and just three holdovers from Cleveland teams he dragged to three straight NBA Finals, James played every game and powered through his 15th pro season like it was another helpless defender in the lane.
By investing millions into maintaining his body and with a work ethic that has pushed him since childhood, James seems intent on challenging basketball’s natural cycle of aging.
At 33, and on the eve of making a run at his eighth straight Finals, James is not slowing down. He remains the game’s best all-around player, most dominant force. Still, the one to beat. Still, the player most capable of carrying a team to playoff victories. Still, the most likely player – sorry Messrs. Westbrook, Harden, Curry and Durant – to make a play that wins a game or a series.
”It doesn’t seem like he gets old,” said Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown. ”He just doesn’t go away.”
While Cleveland’s season was highly irregular, James had another brilliant one.
He averaged 27.5 points – his highest total since 2010 – and established career-highs in assists (9.1), rebounds (8.6) and played the full slate of games for the first time. He led the league in total points, minutes played, surpassed 30,000 career points Womens DeSean Jackson Jersey , recorded 18 triple-doubles and was the league’s second-leading scorer in the fourth quarter (7.5 points).
The three-time champion also extended his record of scoring at least 10 points to 873 games, a mark once owned by Michael Jordan (862), the player James has spent his entire adulthood being compared to and the one he has equaled on many measures.
Jordan was not done at 33, winning three more titles. But his game aged differently. Jordan relied more on jumpers as he got older and ceded tough defensive assignments to other Bulls. James continues to take over games physically, particularly late, and he never hesitates to defend the opponents’ toughest scorers. And the Bulls never counted on their general to rebound or dish out assists as the Cavs lean on James.
James has done it all amid a strange, soap-opera-like season for Cleveland, which endured injuries, illnesses, trades and tribulations from late last summer until early spring.
”As the Land Turns is what I call it,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who returned from an illness just last week.
Following Wednesday’s regular-season finale, James stamped this as-yet-unfinished season a personal triumph.
”It’s the best I’ve felt all season and I’ve got the numbers to back it up and I’ve got the wins to back it up as well,” he said. ”I’ve just tried to be available to my teammates every single night and do everything that I could to win ball games. Either by scoring, by rebounding, by defending, by assisting Womens Jared Goff Jersey , taking charges, whatever the case may be. Statistically it all speaks for itself.”
While amassing those numbers, James has seemingly paused the aging process. Of course, it helps that he has a nutritionist, personal trainer, masseuse, cryogenic chamber and 21st century technology to keep him one step ahead of Father Time.
Cavaliers forward Kendrick Perkins, who was drafted in 2003 after James, is awed by his friend’s commitment and dedication. Perkins was stunned to learn James invests upward of $2 million per year on his body.
”It’s crazy. I watch how he takes care of his body, I watch how he gets treatment around the clock,” said Perkins. ”But it shows and that’s why he’s able to do what he’s been doing at this age. Everybody will be like, `Man, `Bron got to be doing something,’ and I’m like, `No, he actually put in the groundwork and everything you see is because he sacrificed.’ It’s amazing to watch.”
James isn’t done, not even close Womens Dak Prescott Jersey , and earlier this season he described re-writing the narrative that players in their early 30s have reached their prime.
”Hopefully I can break the mold, so when the next guy comes, he can still get $200 or $300 million and be 33 years old,” he said. ”I’m serious. This is the mold I’m trying to break. It’s not just about me, it’s for the next crew. I want it all.”
And what James wants, he usually gets.
He has meticulously worked at his craft, refining his game, adding weapons. This season, James posted a career-high in 3-pointers, and according to Basketball-Reference.com , he made a higher percentage of shots from beyond 28 feet than any player – including Stephen Curry – since 2001.
As far as Brown’s concerned, James is the new standard.
”I don’t see any decline athletically and then watch it, the trend that he’s now shooting and making 3s, so you feel that he just keeps getting better,” Brown said before James scored 44 with 11 rebounds and 11 assists against the Sixers. ”The fact that he can play that many minutes, that many games, seemingly not missing a beat. He is amazing.
”In my opinion Womens Jordan Howard Jersey , he is the best player to have ever played our sport. And he just keeps getting better. And I say that with tremendous respect to lots of other people. That’s a hell of a comment that I don’t throw out recklessly. And I just feel like his body of work makes me feel very confident and comfortable saying that. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be a little short-handed as they prepare for their home opener against Kanas City.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, cornerback Joe Haden and guard David DeCastro could all miss practice time after getting dinged up in a season-opening tie in Cleveland.
Roethlisberger is dealing with a right (throwing) elbow issue, Haden has a hamstring problem and DeCastro fractured one of his hands during the four-hour marathon in a monsoon.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he will monitor their participation before making any sort of judgment on whether they will be available when the Chiefs (1-0) visit Heinz Field.
The injuries don't appear to be serious, with Haden the most likely candidate to sit out if his hamstring doesn't recover in time.
Tomlin described Roethlisberger's achy elbow the byproduct of "the bumps and bruises associated with play."
Roethlisberger raised his concerns after the bizarre 21-21 tie in Cleveland, a game in which the 36-year-old turned the ball over five times, three on interceptions and twice on fumbles. Tomlin said Roethlisberger's elbow had nothing to do with the miscues.
DeCastro fractured his hand during the game but did not miss a play. The All-Pro cleared the way for a pair of touchdown runs by second-year running back James Conner, including a textbook kickout block on Conner's 22-yard scoring run in the second quarter.
If Haden is unable to play, the Steelers will turn to Cam Sutton to fill the void. Sutton grabbed his first career NFL interception when he picked off Tyrod Taylor's lob late in the fourth quarter. Sutton's play was part of what Tomlin described as a "very positive" performance by his team's restructured secondary.
Tomlin also praised the new alignment at outside linebacker of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. The two switched sides during the offseason, with Dupree set up to go at the quarterback's blind side. The two combined for five of Pittsburgh's seven sacks, four of them going to Watt.
The Steelers are also planning to get ready for Kansas City without All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell, who remains out while waiting to sign his one-year franchise tender. Tomlin said he has not had any contact with Bell, who has dominated the Chiefs during his career. He is averaging 126.8 yards rushing against Kansas City in four regular-season games and racked up 170 yards in a divisional round win two years ago.
Conner filled in capably for Bell in Cleveland, piling up 192 total yards on 36 touches. Tomlin is not concerned about relying too heavily on Conner, pointing out Conner was a workhorse during his college career at the University of Pittsburgh.
"That's one of the things that made him attractive," Tomlin said.
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