In a viral video with over seven million views, LeBron James seems overcome by fatigue all through a game against the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas. He slows his dribble to a crawl and exasperatedly bobs his head.

A fraction of a second later, James then switches gears, blowing previous Davis Bertans and Christian Wood, parting a number of defenders earlier than making a reverse layup as if he were Moses, and they were the Red Sea.

A woman who works for Nike named Jasmine Watkins retweeted the video and wrote that is "how the old heads get you," including they "act like they [are] drained after which make a transfer to the rim." Her remark reached James himself, who replied with 5 emoticons of a face laughing so hard it is crying and writing, "FACTS."

It was revealing. 

As James turns 38 on Friday, he is nonetheless playing MVP-caliber basketball, one factor unprecedented for his age. Michael Jordan misplaced steam as he aged. Tim Duncan became the fourth or fifth option in San Antonio.

James is defying Father Time, averaging 27.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in his twentieth season within the league, the oldest participant to place up these numbers, in accordance to StatHead. To be able to do that, we're witnessing such a uncommon mixture of intelligence, skill, bodily prowess and crafty that it ought to be widely acknowledged and reverently celebrated, similar to a once-in-a-generation eclipse. 

But instead, his greatness within the twilight of his profession is being wasted, slipping through the cracks like a world-famous violinist playing a set in a New York City subway as passersby unwittingly rush about their day.

The problem is it is difficult to celebrate greatness when a team is close to the cellar of the league. The Lakers are currently in thirteenth place within the Western Conference, solely 3.5 video games forward of the last-place Houston Rockets. Without Anthony Davis, who's out indefinitely with a stress injury, the Lakers have misplaced 5 of their final six contests.

Simply put, the Lakers' badness is drowning out James' greatness. 

On Christmas, for example, James led all scorers with a 38-point efficiency on 56.6% shooting. But the story of the night was the Lakers being outscored within the third quarter 51-21, as they fell 124-115. 

As the commerce deadline approaches, the query the Lakers will face is simple: Will they sacrifice first-round picks and make a commerce to give James a fighting chance to win now? Or will they chalk up this season as a misplaced cause, save their assets, and try and revamp the team over the summer?

If they select the latter, they'll be committing a basketball crime of sorts. They'll be squandering one of many most impressive, age-defying performances from an athlete in any sport ever. 

It's clear James' patience is running out. 

He's a four-time NBA champion who led each the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers to the Finals eight straight seasons. He's not used to losing. 

"I want to win and provides myself an opportunity to nonetheless compete for championships," James told reporters Wednesday after the Lakers fell to the Heat, 112-98. " ... Playing basketball at this level simply to be playing basketball is not in my DNA. It's not in my DNA anymore."

You cannot blame James for his mounting frustration. 

Even although he is nonetheless on the highest of his game, he is aware of he wants help. For the primary time in his career, he has referred to himself because the second option, behind Davis. And all through this season, he has virtually pleaded for help. 

In October, he acknowledged that the Lakers aren't "constructed of nice shooting." Then, after Davis suffered the proper foot injury, James said final week, "We're already a team with out a lot of size and never a lot of size."

So, in the event that they do not have shooting, size or size, what do they have? 

Clearly, an aging star and an often hobbled star simply is not enough, even when they're two of the best gamers within the world. The fact is the Lakers want protection (they're twenty second within the league) and they want shooting (they're twenty fifth in 3-point percentage). 

He recently had seven straight 30-point performances. He's nonetheless dunking with the energy of a freight train, agilely splitting defenders with dribble-drives, crashing the boards as if he were a decade younger, and dishing passes that show an unparalleled sense of court vision. 

The factor is, it is no coincidence that James is playing so well two years shy of 40. So a lot time and thought has gone into what we're seeing now, which additionally helps clarify his very comprehensible frustration. Throughout this season, James has been particularly introspective when requested about his endurance, often revealing perception about his course of over the years.

He recently said that in his first 12 seasons within the league, he could depend on "super-duper athleticism" and did not have to be "as dialed in" on the game. 

"I could exit and simply determine issues out as soon as I jumped within the air," he said, adding, "I was going to be up there a lot longer than you."

But James always knew that wasn't sustainable for the long-term. So, he made a level of rising his game, so he could be the best participant within the world even when his hang-time decreased. He said he actually used opposing coaches as instruments to aid him with that process, studying the way they opted to defend him, so he could shore up any holes in his game. 

"Coach Pop helped me by going under pick-and-rolls constantly," James said in early December. "Dwane Casey and his protection that he had on me when we went against Dallas within the Finals in Miami helped me. Rick Carlisle, a half of that as well. So a lot of these coaches helped me get higher because I knew that to ensure that me to be the best participant I can be, and one of many greatest of all-time, I couldn't have no weakness."

James additionally revealed a few weeks in the past that he has been focused on keeping his physique sharp since he was in elementary school. Beginning at age 10, James said he'd stretch each earlier than he went to sleep and when he woke up. And in excessive school, he said he was one of many few kids who would ice after games. 

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached James for 4 seasons from 2010-2014, told reporters Wednesday that James was on the "forefront" of taking care of his thoughts and physique within the league, including that he’d even do small issues to stay focused, such as keep his locker tidy. He additionally said James is extremely forward of the curve when it involves adopting new skills. 

"He would see something, and he would work on it for a day, after which he would try it in a game, and it would look like he had been engaged on that for a pair years," Spoelstra said. "That’s how quickly he could assimilate and apply something."

But the query is, how for a lot longer can this last?

Even although James is nonetheless defying the legal guidelines of time, there's almost a way of dread that comes with watching him play now, knowing the sand is quickly falling through the hourglass. 

And if the Lakers do not make some serious changes soon, such an incredible athletic feat will be for naught.

Even although James' physique is holding up, his thoughts can clearly solely take a lot of what is happening round him.

It's one factor James made abundantly clear after the Lakers' loss on Christmas.  

"How many times are you going to attempt to dig yourselves out till it’s an excessive amount of dirt on you?" he asked.

For James, the clock is ticking.

For the Lakers, the pressure is mounting to give James the shot he deserves. 

And for the remainder of us, we had higher appreciate what's happening in entrance of our eyes earlier than it is too late.


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