25-year reign? LeBron James’ rumored long-term plan revealed

LeBron James, Lakers (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
LeBron James, Lakers (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is now in his 20th season and should be slowing down. Instead, he’s averaging a remarkable 26.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game this season. He’s obviously still great, but he can’t possibly keep this going for much longer, and many expect him to play another couple of years before calling it a career.

That would mean that he plays another season with the Lakers before opting out and signing with the team that drafts Bronny James, his son. However, according to teammate Dennis Schroder, James plans on playing another five to seven seasons in the NBA.

Assuming for a moment that that is true, he’d be the first player to play a game in four different decades. It’s one thing for a normal player to accomplish that feat, but having arguably the greatest player ever do it would be all the more astounding.

Can LeBron James really play much longer?

While two more seasons appeared to be a given based on his contract and previous comments, him playing five to seven more seasons seems almost unfathomable. After all, James would be between the ages of 43 and 45, and the oldest player to ever play in an NBA game was Nat Hickey, who, at 45, decided to become a player-coach for two games back in the 1940s.

Meanwhile, James has played big minutes throughout his career, including in the playoffs, where he has had nine playoff runs of at least 20 games. In a sense, he’s already played 22 seasons, factoring in the 200 playoff games.

So, can James actually play an additional five or more seasons? At this point, I’d say yes. Sports medicine has dramatically increased the longevity of players’ careers and the levels at which they play. Just look at some of the best players in the NBA, James aside.

Kevin Durant is on pace to average 30 points per game for a second straight season despite being 34. Steph Curry is a top-five player, and 38-year-old Chris Paul is still key to a contender’s title hopes. This all goes to show that the career span of NBA players is increasing.

Genetics come into play too. Not just any player can last in the NBA, and it makes sense that James would be the one to do it given his elite athletic abilities. Had Michael Jordan, to whom James often is compared, not retired twice, he would have played 19 seasons.

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Jordan didn’t invest in his body the same way James has, and perhaps that will allow LeBron James to play well into his forties. Especially if he accepts a bench role, which would significantly extend his career and ensure that King James’ reign lasts at least 25 years.