LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers has become a polarizing superstar in recent years.
He certainly has his legion of supporters who feel he is the ultimate team player and perhaps the greatest of all time. But there are also an increasing number of observers who think James is selfish and only out for his own stats these days.
Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas, who played against a young James in the playoffs three times, recently defended the four-time MVP against such accusations.
Via Lakers Daily:
“Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas recently claimed that Los Angeles Lakers veteran LeBron James is the only superstar who hasn’t chased stats at some point in his career.
“‘I said, “LeBron is probably the only player, the only superstar that never had that year,'” Arenas explained. ‘He never had that year where he says, “Eh, frick everybody. I’m trying to get my stats.” Because I said, “If he ever did that, who’s stopping him?” That man would average 40-something. … When LeBron stepped in, it was all about trying to win a championship. Every year, trying to win a championship, so he’s been building the teams to try to win championships, so he’s never actually had a selfish year where he says, “I don’t need anybody. I want to show the world what I can do.”‘”
For much of his career, James has had the advantage of being able to jump from team to team in order to give himself a great chance of winning a championship. As a result, he has been able to focus on his team rather than only himself for the better part of the past dozen years.
This past season was an outlier in that regard, as the Lakers failed to reach the play-in tournament. James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists, leading to accusations that he was padding his own stats at the expense of his team.
Those accusations only grew louder as James passed Karl Malone on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and neared Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored more regular season points than anyone else.