If you're headed to the dry cleaners this week, you might want to bring LeBron James with you.
The Los Angeles Lakers forward has called the 2019-20 season his comeback season. After a disappointing 2018-19 campaign that saw James miss 27 games with a groin injury, the soon-to-be 35-year-old spent his first lengthy offseason in 13 years working on his recovery and rehabilitation.
It's been six years since the Lakers last made the postseason, and 13 years since James last missed it. Needless to say, that despite the fact he was shooting Space Jam 2 all summer, James was deadset on making sure neither himself nor his team would miss the NBA Playoffs this year.
"I shot Space Jam for three months all summer," said James. "My call time every morning was at 6:30 in the morning, and I was in the gym at like 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning before shooting [the movie] for 12-to-13-to-14 hours.
"Even when I was shooting the movie I knew what was most important was me getting ready for the fall. It's my personal pressure I'm putting on myself. I believe in myself, and I know what I'm capable of."
James posted multiple videos during the offseason of himself working out, and on set. Recently, as the season got closer, James started posting those workouts with a new hashtag: "Washed King."
Now in his 17th season, analysts like FS1's Skip Bayless and ESPN's Scottie Pippen have both deduced that James has lost a step. Pippen said on The Jump back in August, that he didn't believe James was still capable of carrying a team by himself at 35 years old.
Bayless first posed the question of whether or not LeBron was past his prime, and then gave the answer on his show Undisputed:
"Is he [LeBron] on the downside of his career, or can he maintain the level he's always played at? Asked Bayless to co-host Shannon Sharpe. "Father Time is tapping him on the shoulder, and I don't see it in year 17."
Through the first nine games of the season, James is quieting the doubters. The three-time NBA Champion is averaging 25 points, eight rebounds, and a career-high 11 assists. The latter of which leads the NBA.
"It's my personal motivation," James said of the hashtag "Washed King." "I'm extra motivated to put myself in a position where I know I belong. So it's my personal motivation every single night I step on the floor to be great."
Thus far, James has been great. The Lakers are 7-2 and appear to be one of the best team's in the NBA. During the Lakers last undefeated road trip, James recorded three consecutive triple-doubles, the second most in Lakers franchise history since Magic Johnson ran off four straight triple-doubles in April of 1987.
To Pippen's point, James is not alone in shouldering the entirety of the load for the Lakers. Unlike last season, he now has a bona fide second superstar in Anthony Davis who is averaging 26 points and eight rebounds this year.
Additionally, Davis and the new supporting cast give the Lakers a defensive presence they simply didn't have last season. The Lakers are currently first in the NBA in defensive rating thanks to a number of veteran defenders added to the roster.
In addition to James and Davis, who are both former first team NBA All-Defense winners, the Lakers have four other players who have all been named to an NBA All-Defensive team as well. Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo have all been named to an NBA All-Defensive team in their careers, and Howard is a three-time recipient of the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Father Time is undefeated, but with his new running mate and stellar supporting cast, James has been rejuvenated to start the season and doesn't necessarily have to play at the same elite level he has before in order to achieve success.
James scoring average this season is already the second lowest output in his career, but with the newly built team around him, he doesn't have to carry the offensive load as much as he has in previous years. If James can stay healthy, he may be able to average a triple-double this season and help lead the Lakers back to championship glory.
When asked last week, what he had to say to the critics that might still stand by the notion that he is "washed," James had an incredible comeback for them:
"Meet me at the cleaners," he said with a smile.