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NBA Double Dribble: LeBron could easily outdo Brady by playing well beyond 45th birthday

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3rd February, 2023

There’s no reason why LeBron James couldn’t play another decade if he wanted to obliterate nearly every record in the NBA’s history books. 

The only thing that would hold him back is himself.

In the week when NFL star Tom Brady announced he was finally retiring “for good this time”, LeBron is on the verge of surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the top of the NBA’s all-time scoring honour role. 

After 26 points in the Lakers’ 112-111 nail-biter over Indiana on Friday, he now needs just 63 more points to overtake Kareem despite playing 152 fewer games and almost 4000 minutes less than his fellow Lakers legend. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw in front of LeBron James #6 and Russell Westbrook #0 during a 114-101 LA Clippers win at Arena on November 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

“It’s one of the greatest records in sports,” he said after the unconvincing win over the Pacers which lifts the Lakers to a 25-28 record, mired in 12th in the Western Conference but only three games behind fourth-placed Dallas. 

“It’s like the home-run record in baseball. It’s one of those records that you don’t ever see or think will be broken. It’s a fun thing as a sports person. It was fun watching those guys chasing it.”

It is highly unlikely LeBron will break the record on Sunday against the Pelicans but with two home matches next week against OKC and Milwaukee, he is all but certain to hit top spot in front of the Los Angeles fans. 


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At 38, in his 20th season in the NBA, “the King” is no longer the undisputed monarch of the league when it comes to all-round production, particularly on defence, but he’s still one of the best on court. 

In the 41 games in which he’s suited up for the Lakers this season, he is putting up the kind of numbers that would have gained him All-Star captain status even if he wasn’t the highest-profile player in the sport. 

While averaging 36.5 minutes per game, he’s averaging 30.2 points (just 1.2 shy of his career-high in Cleveland 17 years ago), bringing down 8.5 rebounds, dishing out 7.1 assists and turning the ball over 3.1 times, which isn’t bad for someone who handles the rock as much as him and his third-best season mark out of the 20 he’s lit up.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 02: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 02, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Vince Carter retired a couple of seasons ago after setting a new benchmark of 22 years in the NBA, edging ahead of big man quartet Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Willis and Robert Parish for longevity. 

It’s no longer a question of whether LeBron will stick around long enough to add that record to his list, it’s by how much? 


He reportedly spends upwards of $2 million on maintaining his supreme physical conditioning each year. 

No compromises are taken as he adheres to a strict diet while cryotherapy and hyperbaric chambers also ensure he’s able to compete against and dominate much-younger players.

Young Aussie guard Josh Giddey, who will come up against him when the Thunder visit LA on Wednesday, celebrated his first birthday in the same month LeBron made his NBA debut for Cleveland in 2003. 

His Thunder teammate, Ousmane Dieng – a New Zealand Breaker last year, is 19, so he’s literally half LeBron’s age.

After he was asked earlier this week about whether his imminent elevation to leading pointscorer in NBA history would prompt retirement thoughts, LeBron was adamant the finish line is not yet in sight.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be in this league for at least a few more years,” he said. 


The conventional wisdom has been that he would wait until his teenaged oldest son, Bronny (aka, LeBron James jnr) was eligible to play in the league in 2024-25 to have a swansong season with him before hanging up his Nikes. 

But why stop there? 

He could easily keep playing and performing at a high level for another five years – Carter was a couple of months past his 43rd birthday when he bowed out in lowkey fashion during the pandemic brought an abrupt end to the 2019-20 regular season. 

And he basically spent the last six seasons as a role player, mentoring younger teammates off the bench, at Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta. 

With an ego as large as LeBron’s, would he accept a role like that in the next few years if his production does finally drop off to add weight to the belief that he isn’t actually a cyborg?


If he cut his role and more importantly, his minutes, the stress on his body would enable him to eke out even more seasons to put him into Brady mid 40s territory. 

And put him clear at the top or among the very best in many of the major statistical categories.

Right now he’s: third in minutes (53,667) behind Kareem (52,582) and Karl Malone (57,446);
10th in games played at 1408, less than three full seasons from toppling Parish’s 1611;
second in field goals made (14,030) and attempted (27,787), both to Kareem’s 15,837 and 28,307;
ninth in three-pointers (2232) but he’ll never surpass Steph Curry (3300 and climbing) but he could get into the top five;
fourth in assists (10,345) but second by leapfrogging Jason Kidd (12,091) and Chris Paul (11,249) is his best result with John Stockton so far ahead in first at 15,806;
ninth in steals (2176) and a chance to overtake Michael Jordan (2514) from third spot but Stockton (3265) seems unreachable at the top in this one too.

If you disregard the contentious issue of championship rings because how well your team performs is not always an indicator of a player’s individual talent, LeBron is likely to end up with arguably the best career of all time. 

Michael Jordan

(Photo by Getty Images)

Such is the magnitude of what he’s already achieved and how much more he can accomplish before he brings down the curtain, many of his feats will never be matched. 

However, there is only one G.O.A.T and that remains Jordan. 


His individual resume, it could be argued, will not have the all-round heft that LeBron will end up with but no player has made a greater impact on the sport during their career than Jordan’s epic run with Chicago. 

LeBron will never admit it but there’s no shame whatsoever in being second best to that, in fact whenever his career ends, the kid from Akron’s achievements should be the source of eternal pride.