LeBron James at 39: An Epic Journey Through Stats, Honors, and a Bradyesque Legacy

LeBron James at 39: An Epic Journey Through Stats, Honors, and a Bradyesque Legacy
LeBron James at 39: An Epic Journey Through Stats, Honors, and a Bradyesque Legacy

As LeBron James makes his way through his 21st NBA season, he now enters the final year of his 30s. Born on Dec. 30, 1984, James is one step closer to dominating the league at age 40.

First, he’ll look to do so at age 39.

This Day in Stats: NBA, June 30

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James has been nothing short of incredible in Year 21. He’s demolishing records set by players in their 21st season, averaging 25.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game while proving that evolution never stops with his career-high 41.3 percent shooting from deep.

Look no further than James’ recent 40-point performance in Oklahoma City as his latest victory over Father Time. And while James is the first player to look this good in Year 21, there are a few players that made their presence felt during their age 39 seasons.

That said, LeBron stands above all.

“He’s making everyone else’s 39 look all bad,” Derek Fisher joked during a sit down with The Sporting News.

Fisher, who, in addition to coaching his sons in high school, is a Lakers analyst on Spectrum SportsNet, played his final NBA game just months before turning 40. He knows quite a bit about longevity and fending off Father Time.

“He is performing at levels that nine-year-olds and 19-year-olds wish they could perform at,” Fisher continued. “The consistency in it is what is so impressive … MVP-like performance from a 39-year-old player in his 21st season in a professional sport.

“I mean, that’s Tom Brady-like, that’s Tiger Woods-like before his injuries and that’s what we’ve come to know from LeBron.”

There’s plenty of validity to Fisher’s assertion as James’ 39th birthday falls exactly three weeks after he earned MVP honors for leading the Lakers to the inaugural In-Season Tournament championship. And while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan were each All-Stars during their age-39 season and Karl Malone averaged 20.6 points over 81 games in his age-39 season, the most apt comparisons do come outside of basketball.

MORE: Does LeBron James get legacy boost from his In-Season Tournament MVP?

Brady, who made his first NFL start at the age of 23, won his fifth Super Bowl at 39 and would go on to add two more at 41 and 43. And though Woods’ injuries began to have an impact on him in his early 30s, his incredible win at the Masters came when he was 43 years old.

Perhaps the biggest parallel between Woods and James is how early in their lives they began dominating at a high level and, more notably, the fact they share a birthday.

And still, James’ longevity is unmatched.

Sure, James is not as young as he once was, nor is he as quick or explosive as he was in his younger days. But after logging over 66,000 minutes, he’s still one of the most explosive players in the league.

As Fisher said, there are 19-year-olds who wish they were capable of doing this:

James did it 10 days before turning 39.

As currently constructed, these Lakers don’t have the look of a title contender, so it’s a long shot for James to win league MVP honors. But as we have learned in the past, that could change with one blockbuster move.

That said, James has already earned In-Season Tournament MVP and has an incredible case to be an All-Star Game starter for a record 20th time. Who’s to say he won’t add an MVP on the All-Star stage?

Whether or not James and the Lakers will be able to capture a title this season remains to be seen, but it’s clear that James is a long way away from a significant drop-off. If the parallels between James, Brady and Woods are as strong as they seem, maybe his age-43 season is the one to keep an eye on.

At this point, we’ve got to at least acknowledge that it’s in the cards.

LeBron James vs. notable NBA players in age-39 season

Via Stathead (age is decided by a player’s age before Feb. 1 of that season.)

PlayerSeasonStats
LeBron James2023-2425.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.4 apg
Karl Malone2002-0320.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 4.7 apg
Michael Jordan2002-0320.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.8 apg
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar1986-8717.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.6 apg
Reggie Miller2004-0514.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.2 apg
John Stockton2001-0213.4 ppg, 8.2 apg, 3.2 rpg
Robert Parish1992-9312.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Dirk Nowitzki2017-1812.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 apg
Grant Hill2011-1210.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
Tim Duncan2015-168.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
  • Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan are the only players to play in an All-Star Game at 39. Abdul-Jabbar also earned All-Star selections at 40 and 41.
  • No player over the age of 38 has earned an All-NBA selection.
  • Duncan and Miller both retired after their age-39 seasons.
  • Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers won the NBA title in 1986-87.

LeBron James compared to other legends in age-39 seasons

LeBron James at 39

2023-24 NBA season: 25.1 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, 7.4 assists per game, 53.9 percent field goal shooting, 41.3 percent 3-point shooting, In-Season Tournament champion, In-Season Tournament MVP

Tom Brady at 39

2016 NFL season: 12 games (11-1 record), 28 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 3,554 yards, 67.4 completion percentage, Super Bowl 51 champion, MVP

Hank Aaron at 39

1973 MLB season: 120 games, 40 home runs, 96 RBI, .301 batting average, 12th-place finish in NL MVP voting

LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers NBA

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