LeBron James is a freak of nature. Sure, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s (I’m not ashamed to admit I had to look up how to spell his name, gave up trying to get it right, and copied and pasted it) nickname is the Freak, but LeBron James? Bruh.
It makes no sense that he’s able to play at such a high level in his 15th year in the league after a career in which he’s played in almost every game—94 percent of all regular-season games, or 1,131 out of a possible 1,202 games—and an additional 217 playoff games. It’s a marvel. Professional athletes are a different set of folks anyway, but a breakdown comes no matter who you are; time is undefeated.
It just seems like LeBron has his own clock. An article at ESPN about how he’s on track to play the full 82-game schedule despite back injuries—anybody who follows the NBA knows how back problems can end a career, e.g., Larry Bird, Steve Nash and Tracy McGrady—explained his solution. It turns out that LeBron James employs his own biomechanist. What is a biomechanist? From ESPN:
Concerned, James called in a specialist, a quiet and unassuming man who has been around the Cavs nearly every day for the past three seasons but who largely goes unnoticed, even as the product of his work is on display with James nightly. He is Donnie Raimon, James’ personal biomechanist — a specialist in human movement who combines biology and physical mechanics — and the man who has helped James overcome those back problems.
Biomechanist. Check. That must be expensive.
James is known to personally spend seven figures a year caring for his body, and Raimon is part of that tab. So are personal chefs and masseuses. He also gets private treatments with liquid nitrogen to help reduce inflammation. James’ home facilities rival those of professional teams. In his home in Akron, James has a fully outfitted workout gym, hot and cold tubs and a hyperbaric chamber.
I remember when I would read stories about how elite athletes wouldn’t drink or smoke and how so many become health and nutrition nuts in order to maintain their bodies at peak performance. Which makes sense—if your body and the ability to maintain it are bringing in millions of dollars a year, it’s nothing to sacrifice a little brown liquor to set up your family for generations. Gone are the days of athletes who managed to excel for short amounts of time on pure talent and domination while freewheeling after games on drugs and food that were eating away at their insides.
So I’m not surprised that somebody like LeBron has trainers who specialize in specific areas to ensure that his body is able to perform (and spends a mint on them). What I am amazed by is just how excellent that performance manages to be for somebody who has played almost three extra entire seasons of NBA basketball through the playoffs—not to mention runs in the Olympics. That biomechanics thing is the real deal.
LeBron is human; his reign at the top is not short like leprechauns, but one day it will, sadly, come to an end. I’m not happy about this. But I appreciate that he is extending his ability to play as long as possible by finding and hiring folks who actually put things like “biomechanist” on their LinkedIn pages. LeBron might not be Steve Austin, but he’s going to keep performing like a $6 billion man until the lights go out and it’s his turn to settle down. And I appreciate that.
Now, if only I can find me a budget biomechanist, maybe these stairs in my house won’t give me fits.