It has been an excellent year for LeBron James — who officially solidified his spot as the best player in the world.
His inner demons are gone, his scowl is gone and finally basketball fans can simply appreciate him at the pinnacle of his career, which looks pretty darn good.
Suffice to say, this calendar year has been the perfect example of catharsis. He’s a completely rejuvenated player, and one with a lot more hardware — he earned his third MVP award, first NBA Championship and another gold medal.
James will be 31 by the next Olympics and seemingly able enough to dominate international play again. But, while it’s hard to prognosticate four years in the future, will James decide that he’s had enough? He’s not sure but he gave the indication that he may sit out in 2016.
“It’s been a great run honestly,” James said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be part of the 2016 team.”
On the surface, it sounds absurd to believe that James will not be apart of the next Team USA squad, especially considering a gold medal would give him three, or one more than the immortal Michael Jordan.
But if James is continually asked to play multiple positions, and expound a ton of energy covering for Miami’s deficiencies, his body, as indomitable as it may be, will age considerably in that four year span.
Should he leave, there likely won’t be a player that can realistically fill his void. He averaged 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists while shooting 60.3% from the field. His decision making — James’ assist-to-turnover ratio was a gaudy 5.63 — and defensive versatility aren’t represented in those numbers either.
This isn’t to say that the United States won’t be favored to win the gold without James. They will. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving are potent enough to beat any team.
Whether the best player in the world joins them will be irrelevant. That isn’t a knock on James, rather an example of the depth in the Team USA program, as his intentional resume will withstand the tests of time — with or without another medal in 2016.