NBA Agent Rich Paul Says LeBron James «Would Just Be Karl Malone» Without Elite Athletics

Without supreme athleticism, no problem, at least in the opinion of super agent Rich Paul.

Paul believes that four-time NBA champion LeBron James would end up being one of the greatest players in basketball history, even if he wasn’t endowed with elite athletic skills.

Earlier this year, James concluded his 20th season in the NBA. James, now 38, has been a paragon of consistency throughout his storied career, and during a recent appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Paul shared his thoughts on James’ longevity.

«He’s a guy I’m not going to say no to,» Paul said when asked if James could play into his 40s. «I think it’s important to understand what really drives him … As long as his mind is there, as long as he’s excited about the game, other than health, absolutely.»


Rich Paul and LeBron James of the Lakers speak during halftime of the Denver Nuggets game at Staples Center on December 22, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Paul then suggested that James’ athleticism was an asset and that he would still be considered a great player without him.

“I always make fun of him, I tell him, ‘If your athleticism disappeared, you’d just be Karl Malone. Alright’. You could pick and pop, shoot the jump shot, get the right reads. He can literally play as long as he wants. And at this point, obviously, he’s not playing for the finances, he’s playing because he loves the game.»


Malone, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, is currently in third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. In February, James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the new NBA all-time scoring champion.

Malone was a two-time MVP and a 14-time All-Star. The Utah Jazz legend was able to put together an impressive career without much flashy athleticism on the court. Malone and his former teammate, John Stockton, used pick-and-rolls against opposing teams to create a formidable duo.

Malone was also a member of the 1992 US Olympic men’s basketball team, known as the «Dream Team.»

LeBron James and Rich Paul sit courtside during the BIG3 Championship

Lebron James and his agent Rich Paul during the BIG3 Championship game between the Triplets and the Killer 3 on September 1, 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

James wasn’t a natural midrange shooter when he entered the NBA, but over the years he has become an efficient jump shooter.

During the 2003-04 season, James’ rookie year, he had 29% three-point shooting. But, James has shown the ability to develop his skill set over the years. When he left the Cavaliers and joined the Miami Heat, he was shooting 33% from beyond the arc.

LeBron James and Rich Paul sit courtside

Ernie Ramos, left, LeBron James and Rich Paul sit courtside at the NBA Summer League on July 5, 2019 in Las Vegas. (Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

During the 2012-13 season, James’ third year with the Heat, his three-point shooting percentage reached 40.6%.


After two decades in the league, James certainly isn’t as athletic as he once was. But his high basketball IQ and his willingness to constantly perfect his game have allowed him to remain one of the best players in the NBA.