The play of LeBron James has long been one of the most compelling aspects of the NBA, but lately the experience of watching the world’s best basketball player has taken on an entirely new significance. Outrageously efficient performance has become so predictable for James that every appearance is now appointment viewing.
By now, most NBA fans have caught wind of James’ most recent exploits: a five-game stretch in which he topped 30 points on every occasion, anchored five consecutive Miami victories and posted an absurd 71.4 field goal percentage. Trim away some of James’ misses at the end of the first game in that stretch, and he’s made 49 of his last 65 shots (75.4 percent), which may be the closest thing to shooting perfection that we’re likely to see from a player with such a large role.
For those of us who have had the pleasure of watching James so freely ply his trade, this recent stretch has been a breathtaking experience. Yet for those players unlucky enough to line up opposite James, his performance must be suffocating. Every touch brings its own terrifying potential, as James approaches his on-court goals with an authoritative certainty. He wants to get to the hoop off the dribble for an easy score, and so he does — without much concern at all for defenses, physical limitations or other factors that inevitably steer the play of basketball mortals. Every trip down the floor serves as a reminder that LeBron James simply cannot be stopped, and when he’s executing at this high a level, I’m frankly not even sure he can be slowed.