LeBron James has been an athletic wonder since the minute he stepped on the NBA floor at 18, and in his 17th season, he still beats some of the best athletes in the world with his power, speed and skills. At 35, he doesn’t play the role of a savvy veterinarian finding creative ways to outwit players more than a decade earlier than his junior; he throws alleys on his head. He blows through them on the dribble. It ends in the track with rotational movements. He shoots cross passes that require superhuman strength.
LeBron has also done so in defense this season. Shortly before the NBA stepped in due to the coronavirus, we saw James lock up Giannis Antetokounmpo in a crucial streak of the Lakers’ big top win over the Bucks. There is no doubt that LeBron’s power, athleticism and elite skills are still the driving force behind his dominance.
But when people talk about James as perhaps the greatest basketball player ever, it’s not just his physical talent. It’s also for his intelligence. To call him the smartest player in the current NBA, if not in history, would not be an exaggeration.
“There are a lot of people in the league with LeBron’s body,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told Sports Illustrated in a recent interview. “There is no one in the league with their brains. “
LeBron has long been famous for its ability to see the whole field, where each player is, how they react in certain situations, and then save it to memory for future use. There is nothing he has not seen, and he remembers everything. From this same Sports Illustrated article:
“I always had it,” James told Sports Illustrated. “A lot of my friends, when I was younger, played the game, they said to each other,‘ Dude, how did you remember this game? Or how did you remember it? It was so long ago. “I never thought about it. I didn’t even know what photographic memory meant when I was younger until I got older. It’s something that I was born with or blessed with. ”
When I hear LeBron say this, I immediately come back to this Glass Cleaning video that really struck me. Look at this throughout.
Whenever I see LeBron whipping a pass somewhere or attacking a defensive gap a time before everyone else reacts, I think about this video and how it does 10 things like this in every game that the fan casual – or really even trained assessors – doesn’t even recognize it. We only see the dunk or the blind pass that makes the highlight reel, but that’s what led to this climax that talks about LeBron’s intelligence and that photographic memory he talks about.