Sport LeBron James: The King's 2020-21 campaign has striking resemblance to Michael Jordan's last MVP season
Larry King's death certificate confirms cause of death as sepsis
King, 87, died on January 23, and his death was not directly related to his hospitalization for COVID-19 in December, according to his death certificate obtained by People. The death certificate lists King's primary cause of death as sepsis, a deadly systemic shock that occurs when the body's immune system goes haywire, often in response to a minor bacterial infection. Old age and a weakened immune system are risk factors for sepsis.
It's safe to assume that most all-time rankings feature Michael Jordan and LeBron James at the top.
Much like His Airness, the King continues to defy father time and has continued to build his legacy deep into his 30s.
This season, James has been able to deliver night-after-night, game-after-game despite having a target on his back with the Los Angeles Lakers being the defending champion — something Jordan did in 1997-98.
James is once again in the discussion to win the league MVP, and his case to claim the award is becoming eerily similar to Jordan's case the last time he won it in 1997-98.
Let's take a look at some of the ways the two seasons have mirrored each other thus far.
Nikola Jokic leads balanced Nuggets offence to big victory, snapping Lakers seven-game win streak
Despite missing more than a couple of key rotation players, the Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic, comfortably beat the Lakers 122-105. The visitors were forced to play the second half without Anthony Davis, who strained his right Achilles late in the first half.After a promising first-quarter offensively, something they've been eager to fix over their recent games, it all fell apart late in the first half. To make matters worse, Anthony Davis limped back to the locker room just before halftime after straining his right Achilles, and from there, the Lakers never recovered.
Through the first 31 games of the season, LeBron hasn't missed a single one.
If he continues this pace, he's on track to play in every regular-season game for only the second time in his career, an impressive feat considering the miles on his body and that this is his 18th season. To boot, he's the reigning Finals MVP coming off the shortest offseason in NBA history.
Playing in all 82 games was not a big deal for Jordan. (To be fair, it wasn't a huge deal for the league's biggest stars in the 1990s). Jordan played all 82 games eight times in his career, including the 1997-98 season, his fifth time defending the NBA title in seven years.
The one difference between the two is the minutes they played.
Jordan averaged 38.8 minutes per game in 1997-98. Believe it or not, that didn't even lead the league. Jordan finished 17th that year in minutes per game — 17th! It was a different era, one where stars not only appeared in almost every game but carried a heavy minute load.
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On Friday, Feb. 19, the starters for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will be announced. Who should those starters be? Our NBA.com Staff give their picks ahead of the big reveal. Vote for NBA All-Stars here! Western Conference Yash Matange Scott Rafferty Carlan Gay Juan Estévez Guard Donovan Mitchell Damian Lillard Damian Lillard Damian Lillard Guard Stephen Curry Stephen Curry Stephen Curry Stephen Curry Frontcourt LeBron James LeBron James LeBron James LeBron James Frontcourt Kawhi Leonard Kawhi Leonard Kawhi Leonard Kawhi Leonard Frontcourt Nikola Jokic Nikola Jokic Nikola Jokic Nikola Jokic Yash Matange (@yashmatange
This season, no player is averaging more minutes per game than James Harden (37.8). LeBron, who is averaging 34.7 minutes per game, sits just outside the top 20.
No. 1 option and role players
All through Jordan's championship-contending years in Chicago, he played with a perennial All-Star and All-NBA selection in Scottie Pippen — possibly the best co-star in NBA history. But for the first 35 games of the 1997-98 season, Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls without Pippen.
With some help from Dennis Rodman, Jordan led the Bulls to a more than respectable 24-11 record through the games that Pippen missed, including a 49-point performance very early in the season in a double-overtime win over the LA Clippers.
For James, the depth the Lakers added in the offseason has eased his ball-handling responsibilities and helped the team rack up big wins early. But as the season has progressed, he hasn't had the luxury of sitting out the fourth quarters.
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The Los Angeles Lakers lose to the Brooklyn Nets. LeBron James reaches an impressive milestone, Dennis Schröder remains on record. © Provided by sport1.de NBA milestone! LeBron cracks magic mark in bitter bankruptcy Without the German basketball star Dennis Schröder, who was missing for a short time due to Corona, the Los Angeles Lakers conceded their eighth loss of the season. The champions lost in the top game of the NBA against the Brooklyn Nets with 98: 109.
There could be a number of factors at play — a short offseason, new players adjusting to the team's system and All-Star Anthony Davis not quite playing up to his own high standard — that have forced the ball into his hands late in games to pull off some clutch heroics., he's consistently answered the call. He came up big three times to San Antonio and Memphis.
2⃣3⃣ 4th-quarter points for— NBA (@NBA) over the back-to-back wins in Memphis!
He single-handedlyof his season-best 46-point performance.
He came up clutch in each of the Lakers' three consecutive overtime games in early February.
In the double-overtime contest against the Detroit Pistons, he scored eight of the team's 17 in the second overtime session to ensure the victory. A couple of days later against Oklahoma City Thunder, he scored or assisted on the team's final five points in overtime to seal the victory.
Ibrahimovic criticizes LeBron James: "Do what you are good at"
Soccer eccentric Zlatan Ibrahimovic has gone sidelined with a rebuke for basketball superstar LeBron James. The Swede from AC Milan was furious in a UEFA interview for Discovery + in Sweden against athletes who take to the political stage. And picked James as an example. "Do what you're good at. Stick with it," said "Ibra". © TIZIANA FABI "Ibra" reacts to political statements from LeBron James He admires LeBron James for what he does on the floor.
And in the second of the two overtime games against the Thunder, it was his clutch steal with 3.0 seconds left that helped the Lakers survive.
With each passing month, LeBron's minutes have gone up (as indicated below) and with Davis expected to miss more time, it could go even higher.
To add to the team's worries, no single role player on the Lakers has set themselves apart as a consistent reliable No. 2 that James can depend on with Davis on the sideline.
So similar to Jordan, James has answered the call when the team has needed him despite his age and miles on his body, which has been the case for the majority of this season. But can he take it up a notch or even maintain this level of play, and lead from the front in the absence of Davis, something that will only increase the workload he has to operate with?
As the Lakers stare at the, this non-Davis stretch could make-or-break James' MVP campaign.
Aged but still the best
With averages of 28.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game, Jordan was named the league MVP for the 1997-98 season. At 35 years old, he was the oldest player at the time to ever receive league MVP honours (Karl Malone broke that record a year later).
LeBron's powerful takedown of football megastar
LeBron James responded to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's criticism of his political activism with a forceful promise.The Los Angeles Lakers superstar also pointed out that Ibrahimovic clearly didn't feel the same way about spotlighting social injustices when the soccer great called out racism in his native Sweden just three years ago.
At the age of 36, James is averaging 25.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists through 31 games. If he wins MVP, he would surpass Malone as the oldest player to ever take home the award. Adding a fifth to his trophy cabinet would also tie him up with Jordan and Bill Russell for second-most MVPs ever.
Reigning MVP or not, both Jordan and James in their mid-30s were still widely considered the best player in the league.
Despite being in their mid-30s, Jordan and James still ranked among the most valuable players in the league as per the advanced stats. In 1997-98, Jordan ranked third in the league in box plus-minus. Through 31 games this season, James ranks sixth in box plus-minus. Additionally, James leads the league in , a stat Jordan ranked fifth in in 1997-98.
Can James pull off a similar season?
The numbers, impact and narrative have elevated LeBron as an MVP favourite this season. He faced some of the same adversity Jordan did in 1997-98 and has the numbers to back it up.
Both LeBron and MJ were considered still the best in the game in their mid-30s. Both had to deal with their co-stars missing time with injuries. Both were coming off long and deep playoff runs and had the pressure to repeat again.
The LeBron-Jordan debate will be one that lasts for ages, maybe never giving us a true answer. But this season, the King is travelling a similar path to Jordan for his fifth MVP award, and we as fans get to sit back and enjoy it.
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