Early on Thursday evening, LeBron James was named an All-Star starter for a record 16th consecutive season, and also earned one of the two captain spots after receiving the most fan votes. A few hours later, he showed why he's still at the top of the league by putting together another dominant performance.
Finishing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, LeBron recorded his 10th triple-double of the season to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 128-113 win over Kyrie Irving and the Nets. It's a story you've heard time and again not only this season, but for nearly two decades. Unfortunately, with a resume like LeBron's it can be hard to find reasons to continue to be excited about what he's doing. That's the downside of sustained, consistent greatness.
"Why should I care about this game? What makes it different from the dozens of times he's done in the past, and will do again in the future?" Well, without trying to dictate what you should or shouldn't enjoy as a basketball fan, the primary reason is because he's a once-in-a-lifetime player. And even as he continues to dominate, there's no question he's nearer to the end of his career than the start.
But in regards to this specific game, it's because of his passing. LeBron has always been an unreal passer. For all of his amazing gifts, that's the one skill that's really and truly different. Like, you watch him pass and realize he's doing things we've never seen before, and likely never will again. That talent was on full display against the Nets.
We can go into the breakdown and examine what makes the plays work and all of that, but seriously, just watch these passes. He's unbelievable.
In this first one, he gets downhill, snakes into the lane to get Irving on his hip, then pulls up in the lane as if he's going to shoot a little mid-range jumper. That gets the attention of every single Nets player.
Then, in mid-air, he spots Kyle Kuzma open in the corner, and rifles a pass right into Kuzma's shooting pocket. Cash.
OK, now here's another one that's even more impressive.
This time he takes the ball on the extended post, and surveys the floor. Reading what's about to happen -- Kuzma setting a screen for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to float to the corner -- he hooks a pass over his head while KCP is still on the wing.
Of course, it hits the KCP right in stride, and he's able to rise up right into a 3. Spencer Dinwiddie didn't even do that bad of a job recovering on defense, but LeBron's pass was so on point that it didn't matter.
It's hard not to get hyperbolic, but this pass is just unbelievable. It wasn't a behind-the-back or no-look pass, nor did it result in a big alley-oop so it won't get onto the highlight reels, but it probably should.
The wild thing is that with 10 assists against the Nets, LeBron's average actually dropped for the season. Still, he's dishing out 10.8 assists per game, which is the best mark in the league, and a career high.