LeBron James made a quick decision in free agency this offseason, signing a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the four-time MVP still considered other options.
James revealed in a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he contemplated joining the Philadelphia 76ers or the Houston Rockets before ultimately landing with the Lakers.
“I definitely thought long and hard about the possibilities of lining up alongside Ben (Simmons) and (Joel) Embiid (in Philadelphia), or lining up alongside (James) Harden and Chris (Paul) (in Houston),” James said. “I just felt like at this point in my career, the ultimate for me — just like when I went to Miami, everyone kind of looks at me joining a superteam, but if people look at it, I think Miami was (47-35) the year before I joined that team and you can look at the Lakers’ record — so I like the challenge of being able to help a team get to someplace they haven’t been in quite a while.”
The Lakers have missed the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and they failed to win more than 27 games in four straight seasons before finishing the 2017-18 campaign with a 35-47 record. Clearly, James has his work cut out for him if Los Angeles is going to return to prominence, especially in the Western Conference, where the Golden State Warriors have reached four straight NBA Finals.
That said, James evidently likes the Lakers’ young core, just as he likes Los Angeles’ rather interesting free agent acquisitions this summer. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.
“Obviously, the Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in a few years,” James said, “but the Lakers organization and the historical franchise matches up there with all the greats — you can look at the Cowboys, and you can look at the Patriots, you can look at Manchester United, the Boston Celtics — these are historical franchises, and for me to be a part of that, I think it’s a great moment for not only me but for my family and for the history of basketball in general.”
It’s fair to wonder whether the Lakers will become instant championship contenders with James on board. He’s been to eight consecutive NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference while playing for the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, but the West is far more stacked and Los Angeles has a ton of players who still are developing. It might take some time for LA to hit its stride.
It’s also fair to wonder whether James would have been better off joining the Sixers or the Rockets, two teams with superstars that already look like legitimate title threats. Philadelphia is right there with the Boston Celtics in terms of the East’s elite, and Houston took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals this past season.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP