What Happens when lebron moves on?

Lately, I’ve been crushing through NBA Films on Amazon Video like those bad boys are going out of style. Well, I guess they technically are, but they shouldn’t be. So far, I’ve run through the 2001 and 2010 Lakers championship runs, the 2013 Miami Heat title team, and Michael Jordan’s “Above and Beyond.” They are all excellent, and I recommend any professional basketball fan check them out, as soon as possible.

From incredible behind-the-scenes footage with great interviews and story lines, to phenomenal in-game shots, these films are the real deal. After watching MJ’s “Above and Beyond” documentary, however, my mind began to race. While the Lakers and Heat documentaries are based around specific teams and their championship runs, the Jordan films represent something completely different; a man above the rest of the pack.

With several films documenting his dominance of the league, “Above and Beyond” chronicles MJ’s years up until and after his first retirement from the game of basketball back in 1993. After the Bulls won three straight titles and Jordan was on top of the basketball (and entire) world, the greatest of all-time decided to move on.

After the tragedy of his father’s murder, Jordan went through with his decision to dig deeper, while searching for peace and solitude during the most tumultuous time in his life. As I sat there in amazement that the best player in the world would leave his sport in his prime years, I couldn’t help but think about our generation’s best player at the moment, LeBron James.

I’ll spare you the comparisons, as I actually don’t believe their games compliment one another, and I am not here to go all Skip Bayless on your ass. That said, watching this documentary forced me to think about the days when LeBron will no longer be a part of the National Basketball Association, and what that means for fans of the game and the sport of basketball.

First, when I really sit there and delve through old YouTube (the best site ever?) clips and highlight videos, I cannot for one second believe that LeBron James has been in the league since 2003. I was 13 years old. Who was I at 13? I haven’t a damned clue.

Who was LeBron James during that time period?

This guy…

While I fought through puberty, emotional roller coasters, girls, my parents, and my own dreams to make it as an NBA player (shot down, violently), an 18-year-old LeBron James was putting on a show for the entire world to see. He had to grow up fast (J. Cole voice), and as the sport continued to grow its presence overseas, I couldn’t help but see just how much this guy was changing the game.

He is 6' 8", 200-something pounds with the best court vision for a player with that size since Magic, with a signature tomahawk dunk that he’d continue to relish (and maybe ruin) throughout the rest of his career. While Larry Bird left the game 13 years into his playing days, we are witnessing the 14th year of LeBron James terrorizing the league.

From some big NBA Finals losses to San Antonio and Golden State, LeBron James and his teams have always been met with some level of criticism. Fair or not, it’s the way it is, and I’m always baffled when his fans believe that criticism will change. Last season? He led both teams in all major categories in the NBA Finals, and there are still groups who will continue to hate on him. I’ve been a part of that crowd before, as he can be a frustrating player and personality at times, but this has also added to his aura both inside, and outside, the sport of basketball.

LeBron is who he is.

As I look around the NBA landscape, the league is ripe with stars. From Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant, to Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Demar Derozan, Boogie Cousins, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl Anthony-Towns, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Kevin Love, Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward and more— let’s just say there are a lot of excellent players out there.

The league will be okay.

Let’s not get that twisted. Kobe embarked on a farewell tour last season, and just like anything, the game has moved on. Oh yeah, and that other really good player — what’s his name — Tim Duncan? Yes, he also retired from the sport last season. When I look around, it is eerie not seeing Kobe or Timmy D representing the NBA, but it is 2017, and onward we must move. So, what will it be like when LeBron James leaves the game?

It’ll be really, really strange. Time is a eerie thing and when I look back at rookie LeBron James and ’07 LeBron James and ’12 LeBron James, it doesn’t feel all that long ago. Then, in another compartment of my brain, it seems like forever ago. And, finally, in yet another brain chamber, I realize that it actually all was quite a long time ago.

I saw LeBron James play as a freshman in high school when I was only 10 years old. All together, I have watched the young phenom play the sport of basketball for 16 years — or, for as long as I waited to earn my drivers’ license in the state of Ohio. Kind of puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?

How much does LeBron have left in the tank? Three years? Five? Eight? Kobe and Duncan reigned for 20 and 19 years, respectively, and I still believe LeBron (who has now logged more minutes than His Airness) has a good five to six years in him.

Dare I say more than that?

Only Father Time will tell.

For now, let’s enjoy the last run of the greatest player of our generation. With a possibility for the first-ever third straight NBA Finals appearance for the same two teams, this season’s story lines are beginning to heat up. With an East that is improving each year(Celtics, Wizards), the Cavs will have their work cut out for them during this season’s playoff run. After two amazing games against the Wizards:

and Celtics:

It’s safe to say that the playoffs are going to be — what’s the word the kids are using these days? Ah yes, LIT.

Say it with me, folks: The 2017 NBA Playoffs are going to be oh-so-lit.

And, we get to witness yet another year of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers making their title run.

Who’s ready?