- At 33 years old, in his 15th season, LeBron James is playing as well as ever and did something he has never done before – he played in all 82 regular-season games.
- Those who have played and worked with James are in awe of how he takes care of his body.
- James reportedly spends seven-figures per year on body care, has a team of people that take care of him, and has turned his home into his gym.
The NBA has never seen a player like James – a 6-foot-8 physical force with a high basketball IQ and few weaknesses in his game. His talent and athleticism are still unmatched. Even rarer is his longevity.
At 33 years old, in his 15th season in the NBA, LeBron James did something he had never done before – played all 82 games in the regular season. And with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in the NBA Finals, James will surpass 100 total games played in a season for the first time.
There is no rest program in place for James, who should theoretically be in the back-end of his prime. Instead, James is carrying even more weight than usual for a Cavs squad that relies on him even more than in past seasons.
Last season, his 14th in the NBA, James averaged career highs in rebounds and assists per game while shooting above his career averages from the field and three. This year, he’s raised his scoring, rebounding, and assist averages while maintaining the same efficiency from the field.
James’ sustained excellence boils down to his unrivalled work ethic – and, specifically, the care he gives to his body.
Additionally, James’ house is essentially a laboratory with a team of scientists that help him stay in tip-top shape. That team includes a former Navy SEAL who serves as his biomechanist, a recovery coach, the Cavs’ team of physical coaches and trainers, plus personal chefs and masseuses. According to Windhorst, James has a full gym, ice tub and hot tub, and hyperbaric chamber in his home.
His former teammate Mike Miller told Bleacher Report’s David Cassilo last year that James treats his fitness and health as an investment – one that will surely pay off down the line.
“Where a lot of people don’t do it, he puts a lot of money behind taking care of his body,” Miller said. “A lot of people think it’s a big expense, but that big expense has allowed him to make a lot more money for a long period of time.”
Anyone with a relationship with James says he takes immaculate care of his body. Kevin Durant once told Bill Simmons about James’ dedication to his health.
“One thing I learned about LeBron – I worked out with him – LeBron takes care of his body,” Durant said. “He knows that in order for him to play that long, his body has to be up. He has to keep that in shape. Like, he works on his body, like, religiously.”
Durant said that while James worked on his skills, he dedicated much of his time to staying in shape.
James’ longevity is even more incredible when considering the tremendous workload he has carried during his career. James has made the playoffs in 12 of his 14 seasons and is on a streak of seven straight Finals appearances. He hasn’t had a season that ended before June since 2010. He’s logged the 28th-most regular-season minutes in NBA history and is second all-time in playoff minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.
According to Cassilo, James was one of the first players with a cryochamber.
In 2015, Ken Berger pulled back the curtains on James’ body preparation. After games, Berger reported, James does things like drink electrolyte-rich drinks, take ice baths, and receive electrostimulation. He wears compression sleeves and tights on flights to keep his blood flowing.
Even James’ teammates, the people around him every day, say they are amazed by his reservoir of energy and athleticism.
Former Cavs guard Iman Shumpert told Complex last summer that James often participated in dunk contests with him, throwing the ball off the wall, going through the legs, and more.
“We’ll be in the middle of warming up, and ‘Bron will-” Shumpert said, cutting himself off and imitating a windmill dunk. Shumpert said he would ask James, incredulously: “‘Bro, you warm already?’… Don’t you got three kids? … ‘You don’t feel that in your knees?'”
Shumpert added that James prioritised rest, recovery, and health over everything else.
“He just takes care of his body,” Shumpert said. “He’s got his trainers there. He put that ice on right after the game – he gonna sit there.
“Like, people may think it’s diva-ish, but that man will get his treatment and be late. ‘I’ll be late to this event, even though y’all paid me all this money to be here. Because I gotta do everything I gotta do to make sure I preserve my body so I can do this tomorrow.'”
In 2015, James had arguably the most significant physical setback of his career. In the middle of January, while both he and the Cavs were struggling, James took two weeks off to rehabilitate his back, which had been giving him problems. Windhorst later reported that James had received anti-inflammatory shots for his back and that the Cavs wanted him to take time off to recover.
Richard Jefferson told Simmons on a podcast that when he arrived in Cleveland in 2015, James’ back was still giving him problems. Jefferson said he recommended “biomechanics,” or core strengthening, to James, and he thinks it’s taken James’ career to a new level.
By the looks of it, James is still into it:
It’s unclear how much longer James can continue to play at this level, but thus far there’s been no indication that he’s close to slowing down.
“It’s every day. Around the clock every single day, working on my body,” James told Windhorst. “Either with treatment or working on my body in the weight room. Continuing just to build strength throughout the season when everybody else is kind of tearing down … not putting too much pounding on my legs when I’m on the court, but being very efficient. I’ve kind of figured that out in my 15th season.”
James hasn’t said he wants to play into his 40s, à la Tom Brady, but it’s not hard to imagine him considering the possibility. Both players are serious about taking care of their bodies, and as a result, both are on top of their sports.
More NBA playoffs coverage:
- Steve Kerr’s biggest grievance with the Warriors is haunting them in a way nobody saw coming
- LeBron James just pulled off what his former GM called ‘unprecedented’ and perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of his career
- LeBron once again showcased his photographic memory, recalling all 6 of his turnovers in exact detail
- ‘He’s downstairs – you can go ask him’: Kevin Durant challenged Charles Barkley to go talk to Draymond Green after calling him ‘annoying’
This post was originally published in October and has been updated.
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