As a teenager he represented potential, as teenagers often do. A worldwide advertising campaign proclaimed us all “witnesses,” and what we were witnessing was the evolving nature of possibility.
It wasn’t just that LeBron James did things we hadn’t seen before. A major part of his appeal was the idea that whatever he did next was going to be even more staggering, even more preposterous, even less believable. And even as he kept topping himself, it was unfathomable to consider he’d peaked.
But at some point he did, and he knows now that it already happened. The ex-teenager did what lots of ex-teenagers do, which is wake up one day and realize he had to not only recalibrate his expectations but make an admission.
“I know getting back to 100 percent is impossible,” James told reporters last week. “I’ll never get back to 100 percent in my career.”
This was less an assessment of the seriousness of an ankle injury than it was a comment on the realities of aging. In this way, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar rarely has been more relatable.
One need not be a global phenomenon to be thunderstruck by the sudden understanding that those mile-by-mile running splits never are going to get any smaller, or that those drives off the tee never are going to get any longer, or that those lost inches of vertical leap off the YMCA basketball court never are coming back.…