Only a handful of NBA legends remained dominant in the later stages of their careers, and many of them transform their roles depending on their capabilities and health. But, unfortunately, Father Time remains undefeated. It takes a lot of preparation, a healthy lifestyle, and luck to compete at a high level when players are close to 40 but still active in the NBA and aiming for a championship.
Both Michael Jordan and LeBron James are prime examples of being almost equally productive when you are over 35 years old. At the age of 36, LeBron was having a great individual season until he got injured and was even in the MVP conversation at one point. Jordan’s stint with Washington Wizards was almost equally impressive. Even though he was nearly 40, he was casually dropping 20-25 points per game, showcasing he never lost his touch despite taking another break from basketball before that.
In a recent interview for the Called Game podcast, Metta World Peace shared his views when comparing the later stages of Jordan’s and LeBron’s careers. He believes Jordan didn’t care much about winning championships when he joined the Wizards. Instead, his motivation to play basketball at that age was because of his love for the game and realizing he can still compete at a high level.
When MJ was playing, if LeBron did what MJ did that early, maybe LeBron gets tired also right. MJ felt like it literally was no competition that’s that was the feeling I’m gonna come back again and just win again right like, ‘I’m done, I got six rings, I’ve never lost in the finals no one’s gonna catch me.’ right and that’s his mind.Metta World Peace, via Called Game
On the other hand, LeBron has an incentive to win more championships and potentially surpass Jordan’s six titles. His window of opportunity is getting smaller but his ambition is much different than Jordan’s with his time with the Wizards.
But LeBron lost in the finals. LeBron don’t have six rings, so LeBron he won six rings, but it better believes that yeah. He got four, he’s got four, that’s not a lot for him… It’s not a lot for him, that’s not a lot, you know… So it’s hard to compare what their passion is, they’re just different.”Metta World Peace, via Called Game
As Metta said, they are different, and at later stages of their careers, other things motivated them. For LeBron, it’s clear he wants to defend the title he won with the Lakers last season and hopefully got one or two more championships under his resume before he retires. For Jordan, winning championships with the Wizards was a goal but not a priority because he had nothing to prove anymore. However, even he knew that would be hard considering he was their best player while being the oldest player on the roster.
LeBron is still viewed as one of the best players in the NBA, and a lot of attention is focused on him and the Lakers. Things are not looking good, though, since he struggles with an ankle injury while the Lakers are now sitting in the 7th spot in the western conference. There is no doubt LeBron will do anything he can to get back to the NBA finals once again if possible, but that road seems a lot harder than it was last year in the bubble.