LeBron James’ position atop the NBA is nearly untouchable.
Those that try to climb to claim it will often fall, crashing down under the weight of his 13 All-Star appearances, three championship rings, four MVP titles, three NBA Finals MVP awards, Olympic medals and 2008 scoring title.
James has done virtually everything an NBA player can do; among current players, the throne is his alone. So what else can the 32-year-old accomplish in his career? The Cleveland Cavaliers star spoke with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and revealed his final goal.
“I want to shoot 80 [percent] from the free throw line, man,” James told ESPN. “That’s my only goal. That’s my last goal of my NBA career. That’s my last one. I’ve done everything else.”
James, who is in his 11th season with Cleveland and 15th overall, had his best free throw percentage in 2008-09, when he shot 78.0 percent. For his career, he has shot 74.0 percent from the charity stripe.
McMenamin wrote that James’ teammate Kyle Korver, “considered one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, thinks James is setting his sights too low.”
Korver thought James could shoot “50-40-90,” meaning 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point arc and 90 percent from the free throw line. James had a quite animated response to Korver’s challenge.
“I definitely got the 50,” James replied. “The 50 ain’t s—. I can shoot 50 in my sleep. I’m almost damn near 60. I can shoot 60.”
James then adjusted his goal: “I can go 50-40-85. Maybe. We’ll see.”
While James tries to reach his free-throw percentage goal for the season, on Tuesday night, he passed longtime teammate and close friend Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the Cavaliers’ all-time leader with 772 games played. James is already Clevaland’s all-time leader in points (20,977), assists (5,513), steals (1,265), three-pointers (1,110), and defensive rebounds (4,569).
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 25, 2017
One reason for James’ new career goal is a forced change to his shooting form that has paid immediate dividends in the first few games of the season.
This season, James has had to adjust his shooting form because his right shooting elbow mysteriously swelled to the size of a tennis ball a few weeks after the NBA Finals, according to McMenamin. This injury forced James to change his shooting motion to end with a higher release point, causing less discomfort in his elbow.
Even after the elbow swelling went down in the offseason, James said he decided to stick with his new shooting form. So far, it’s impressing his teammates, like Korver.
“His hand is real strong on the ball and his form is more compact than it’s ever been before and I think that he’s a worker, man,” Korver told ESPN. “He shoots a lot. And you can tell he worked on it a lot this summer.”