LeBron James is the only person who can call LeBron James "washed"—you got that? OK, good.
Yesterday, LeBron came under what would be a crippling amount of scrutiny for anybody else, with a well-quoted Bleacher Report article about how players don't want to play with LeBron anymore. This on the heels of two Lakers legends, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, voicing concerns that LeBron's workload was getting to be two much. But LeBron is no mere mortal. These things don't stick to him.
Instead, he had other things on his mind:
Apparently, LeBron missed his company party for a little bit of winter shuteye, like some kind of snoozing geezer—maybe those workload concerns are legit??
His teammate Kyle Kuzma couldn't let that one go, though, and decided to serve up some roast GOAT:
LeBron came back with a dad-ass "NOT" joke in response—only just compounding his old-man look:
But this Christmas party business is all beside the point. LeBron's rep took a major hit in an article quoting the whole league—Kevin Durant said no one wanted to play with him because the media lovefest surrounding LeBron is "toxic" and, speaking before he was traded to the Lakers, his then former and now current teammate Tyson Chandler said that when you play with LeBron "you've got to make it all about LeBron," (which Chandler later claimed was out of context)—and then came out of the day looking unflappable. Why?
Because last night, against the San Antonio Spurs, he did this:
Now, the Spurs are not the same team we've come to know, but LeBron came out with his third 40+ point game of the season, dropping 42, with 20 in the fourth quarter, at one point nailing 14-straight points in four minutes, and even found a way to slide a beautiful 29-foot stepback three. Unbelievable.
You know someone who wasn't quoted in that article talking shit about LeBron? Gregg Popovich:
That's because he knows what he's actually witnessing right now—the GOAT getting older, but refusing to give up his prime.
And LeBron had this to say after the game, per ESPN:
Afterward, James was asked if his performance was fueled in anyway by all the talk surrounding him in recent days.
"No, for what? I'm past the [taking things] personal stage," James said after his third game of 40-plus points this season. "I can do whatever. I can have a huge workload, I can have a not so huge workload. ... It doesn't matter for me. What's most important is seeing my teammates make huge shots in the fourth quarter. ... That's what's most important to me. I can care less about the narrative about me. It doesn't matter. I'm a staple in this game."
I don't know about you, but playing ball with someone who drops 42, shouts out his teammates, and maybe adds a little bit of ego to the mix? That sounds like something I could work with.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.