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LeBron James channeled his inner Magic Johnson with a performance for the ages


Standing 6’8 and weighing in at 260 pounds, while possessing the skills of a guard and the physique of a big man, LeBron James can literally do anything on the basketball court. In his 19th season, there was apparently one thing that LeBron had not yet done, start at the Center position. Today, in his first career start at Center, LeBron James had 32 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, two blocks, and a steal to lead the Lakers to a win over the Houston Rockets.

Whatever it takes

LeBron has been brilliant lately, averaging around 36 points and 10 boards per game across the Lakers’ last five contests. Before that, it seemed that LeBron had scored over 30 points in every game since his suspension, but unfortunately, his efforts have not translated to wins for his ball club. With LeBron at Center, perhaps the Lakers may have found a combination that works for the time being, as Anthony Davis sits out the next few weeks nursing an injury.

“I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to help this team win.”

LeBron James, postgame interview with Mike Trudell

Their defense is still nothing to be desired, as the Lakers’ small-ball lineup with LeBron at the five gave up 123 points to the young Rockets. However, the Lakers put up 132 points on the board thanks to a great two-man game between LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. The aggressiveness of the two stars on the offensive end also opened up opportunities for Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk, who were inserted into the starting lineup to help open up the floor for James and Westbrook.

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Considering that this is LeBron’s first start at the five and the first contest wherein he has played extended minutes at the position, tonight’s performance is a welcome ray of sunshine for the Lakers. As they continue to search for answers, the purple and gold may have found an unlikely solution to their spacing problem. Apparently, it’s not AD who needs to play the five, but perhaps it’s LeBron.

Never fear, E.J. is here!

LeBron playing at the five immediately took us to 1980. In one of the greatest performances in Laker history, a rookie everyone knew was good made it clear he was much more than that. Magic himself calls it the greatest game he ever played.

With the series tied at 2-2, the Lakers were trying to clinch a crucial Game 5 against Dr.J and Mo Cheeks. Their best player, and regular-season MVP, had a bad ankle roll and played one of his best games ever. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Lakers with 40 points - 14 in the last quarter on a bad ankle. Despite their spectacular win, everyone on the plane was down, knowing Kareem was out for Game 6 played in Philadelphia. Then their rookie point guard walked in on the plane with his big smile, sat in Kareem’s customary front-row seat, winked at head coach Paul Westhead and said:

“Never fear, E.J. is here!”

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Fortunately for the Lakers, their rookie point guard was 6’9”. Magic started at center, and 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and a block later, the Lakers were NBA champions. Johnson won Finals MVP and the hearts of Lakers fans.

As great of a career he’s had, LeBron’s still not on the Lakers Mt. Rushmore. A performance like the one he had last night could change that - if it happens in the Finals against the Bucks or Nets. I’m afraid a win against the tanking Rockets in December won’t cut it.

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