What getting swept means for LeBron’s Legacy?

Logan Martinez, Contributor

Throughout the history of the NBA, only 10 players have managed to play 20 or more seasons. Though regarded as a notable achievement, players in this stage are often seen getting low minutes and contributing very little to their respective teams. Players such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter all played in year 20, yet failed to contribute to any real team success. However, in the year 2023, LeBron James found himself not only playing at a high level in year 20, but also greatly impacting his team throughout the regular season. Averaging an astonishing 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists, it goes without saying that what LeBron has done this year is simply unprecedented. Although a sweep by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals was not ideal, it hardly diminishes James’ all-time legacy as a top-five player. 

Coming into the playoffs as a bottom-tier seventh seed, reaching the Western Conference Finals alone should be celebrated, as James was able to lead his team despite being in season twenty. While many analysts try to blame LeBron for this season’s shortcomings, it should be noted that without James, the Lakers would most likely be a lottery team hoping for a high draft pick. Playing at an extremely high level in his 20th season, James can only hope to add to his legacy at this point in his career. At 38 years of age, any accomplishments made by James and the Lakers should be celebrated rather than critiqued. 

While reaching the conference finals in year twenty is certainly a great achievement, its result certainly left a lot to be desired. Bested by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, LeBron found himself getting swept for just the third time in his career. Although it does not take away from the long list of achievements made this season, countless analysts have insisted that James’ legacy is indeed tarnished from the sweep. Television personalities such as Skip Bayless would even have one believe that the Nuggets’ Sweep over the Lakers is entirely LeBron’s fault. However, to put it briefly, that is simply not the case. 

Playing in year twenty, James should not face the same expectations he faced in years prior. While his greatness has transcended decades, it is wrong to hold the king to such high standards at such an old age. Although some tend to disagree, at 38 Michael Jordan was never expected to win the East, let alone win another championship. Instead, he was celebrated for his breakout scoring nights and commended for his valiant effort. The same should be done when watching the greatness of LeBron James. Certainly playing at a higher level than Jordan ever did at age 38, LeBron should be commended for achievements such as reaching the Western Conference Finals, rather than being critiqued for getting swept in those same finals. Continuing to play at the highest level, James finds himself only being able to add to his historic legacy at this stage of his remarkable career.