By the time Lebron James was 22, he had already been to an NBA Finals. Well he had a better team than any team Devin Booker has been a part of right? Eh…..not so fast. Devin Booker’s numbers may cause the eyes to pop but his play on the court shows how far he needs to go to breathe the same air as Lebron James.
A common side to take in any argument surrounding Lebron James is “Oh he’s done” or “The dude ruined the league.” Let’s take a breath for a minute. Yes, Lebron has changed the landscape of free agency. Yes, he has changed the idea that building a team organically is the only way to win.
This isn’t going to be a diatribe on who Lebron is or what he’s done. I’m going to focus on something Lebron hasn’t done up until this year. Miss games. Lebron James has missed 72 total games in 15 seasons played before the start of this season, averaging out to missing under 5 games per regular season.What isn’t included in that figure is the 239 playoff games in which he’s played which is good for 4th all time, only 20 back from Derek Fisher’s all-time lead of 259.
Why am I telling you this? To stick up for Lebron missing 18 games this season with a groin injury that jettisoned the Lakers season? No. I’m reminding the haters of his mental and physical resilience throughout his career.
Who cares? So what? He didn’t get hurt. Ok. People are as quick to overlook as they are to judge regarding missing time. I’ve listed six top NBA players who people tout as All-NBA level talent (throwing Devin Booker in just to localize). Comparing their numbers regarding missed games, you’ll see how truly great Lebron’s tenure in the NBA has been.
Missed Games (up to 2017-18 season)
Lebron James:72 games missed in 15 seasons
●4.8 games missed/season
●5.8% of team’s games
Kevin Durant:125 games missed in 11 seasons
●11.36 games missed/season
●13.8% of team’s games
Steph Curry:116 games missed in 9 seasons
●12.88 games missed/season
●15.7% of team’s games
Anthony Davis:82 games missed in 6 seasons
●13.66 games missed/season
●16.6% of team’s games
Chris Paul:172 games missed in 13 seasons
●13.23 games missed/season
●16.1% of team’s games
Devin Booker:62 games missed in 3 seasons
●20.66 games missed/season
●25.2% of team’s games
None of the 5 guys aside from Lebron are in the top 25 in most playoff games played in NBA history.
When you watch the Lakers struggle for the rest of the season, remember that Lebron isn’t different. He hasn’t let up off the gas. He’s getting over an injury. It’s something that every other player in the NBA gets a pass for. When it’s James, though, the haters come out to play, and forget that he’s done nothing but make the game of basketball better for everyone that’s watched him play.