LeBron James admits he’s a different player from the one who entered the NBA as a-straight-out-of high school physical specimen. But he’s just as adamant in maintaining that reality could be the best thing that could happen to his and the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA title aspirations.

I’ve expanded the rest of my game,” he told ESPN. “I’m still out there making plays. My athleticism, obviously I’m not the 18-year-old kid that I was before. But I can still do the things I need to do to be successful.”

And as James goes, so go the Cavs, same as it been for every other team the four-time league MVP and two-time champion has suited up with. James (41 points, five rebounds, five assists) topped the 30-point plateau for the seventh time this season in the Cavs’ 199-114 loss to the Pelicans, and his stellar play has been at the heart of the team’s recent streak of eight wins in 10 games.

Still, several stories have pointed out James had only six dunks in his team’s half- court offense over their first 20 games and another noted “the LeBron who could on any player at any time is probably gone.”

To that James responded “I’m 29 years old, and I can still fly above the rim. I don’t need to lose weight to do that. Not at this point of my career. I got so much love for the game, I try to do everything I can to play when I can. When I’m done and I can’t play the game no more, I wish I got those games back. But I do got to be smart sometimes.”

Following his onslaught against New Orleans, James joined Michael Jordan as the only players with 40 or more 40 point, five rebounds, five assists games over the last three decades. With a schedule of seven games over the next two weeks, including his first outing against the Miami Heat since his return to Cleveland on Christmas Day, James will also certainly be counted on for even more heroics.

[Photo Credit: Keith Allison]