LeBron James is the newest face of the Los Angeles Lakers, as the star elected to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join one of the NBA’s most storied franchises in free agency.
Since the young Lakers don’t currently have the look of a championship team, many have speculated that James’ move to LA is more about other opportunities than winning titles.
But a Laker great isn’t buying that.
Shaquille O’Neal, who won three championships with the Lakers from 2000-02, was asked by Sports Illustrated if James still is driven by the pressure of winning three titles. O’Neal went into an explanation of King James’ decision to join the Purple and Gold. The Hall of Fame center believes the 33-year-old came to LA with a specific goal: beat Stephen Curry.
“I think right now, his process is to have more than Steph Curry,” O’Neal said. “When you win championships, you want to outdo your opponent. He has three and for a while he was up there by himself. Now Steph Curry has three. So I’m sure his mindset is, “I got to get four, before he gets four.”
Curry and the Golden State Warriors have been a thorn in James’ side for the past four years, beating the star forward in three of the past four NBA Finals to give Curry the same amount of rings as James.
The Warriors will enter next season as the heavy favorites to once again lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy. So if James really is focused on having more jewelry than Curry (he’s not), then the Lakers better start surrounding him with high-level talent instead of veteran playmakers who lack shooting ability.
But if you ask Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, surrounding James with Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson is all part of the plan to beat the Warriors.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images