LeBron James has finally accomplished what he set to do since joining the LA Lakers. James has pushed the franchise to their 17th NBA title in convincing fashion that has added to his illustrious career. It has also just secured his place as an all-time Laker great.
LeBron James dispells initial negative narrative around LA arrival
When LeBron James first arrived to the Lakers, many critics pinpointed the move as one made outside of basketball reasons.
The narrative spun around him eyeing to progress his ventures further away from his craft. The idea of moving to LA drew a strong connection with James attempting to build his brand and become an icon in the entertainment industry.
That chatter remained through much of his first campaign with the Lakers, especially after the team failed to reach the playoffs while he missed a sizable chunk of time due to injury. However, that all ceased after LA pulled off the blockbuster deal to acquire Anthony Davis last offseason.
It quickly pushed the talk toward competing for an NBA title as James and Davis now headlined the Lakers’ roster. General manager Rob Pelinka with James’ help, put together a team with a strong veteran presence.
The 35-year-old made the most of the situation, helping push the Lakers to their first NBA title in a decade. It has also done something much more significant for his legacy.
LeBron James’ legacy cemented with the Lakers
LeBron James has secured what he set out to do after joining the Lakers.
James put forth an incredible second season in LA, which saw him finish second for the MVP award and earn his 13th All-NBA First Team selection. He was remarkable throughout the playoffs stepping up as a guiding force for the Lakers’ dominant run with 16-5 record to an NBA title.
James dominated the series with a triple-double in the Game 6 championship-clinching win. That helped him achieve more history by becoming the first player to win the Finals MVP award with three different teams.
More importantly, the championship cemented his legacy with the Lakers as an all-time franchise great. It may be a short tenure with the organization, but as James keenly noted before Game 5, the fan base will define his time in LA by championships and nothing less.
“What I’ve learned being a Laker is that the Laker faithful don’t give a damn what you’ve done before. You’ve gotta do it with them as well.”
Alongside Davis, James helped guide one of the illustrious franchises in the NBA to a championship. It’s a feat that takes his legacy to the next level while further solidifying his place in the GOAT conversation.
Although there is more to unfold in his time with the Lakers, he may have done enough to warrant his jersey retired from the franchise years down the line. It will put his No. 23 up in the rafters alongside Kobe Bryant’s two jerseys, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson.
James still has an opportunity to add to his legacy as it remains an open book that may have much more championship success ahead.
Lakers’ bright future ahead
Beyond vying for an NBA title, the Lakers have given much reason for optimism around their future.
LA will enter next season as the favorite to secure the NBA title, especially after their dominant run through the playoffs.
The expectation is that Davis will ink a long-term deal to remain with the team well beyond next year. The Lakers will make a concerted effort to secure the star forward to a contract that will lend to him being the next face of the franchise beyond James’ tenure.
What is interesting to note is that next season will be the third year in James’ four-year, $153.3 million deal. The contract’s final year contains a $41 million player option that could see him exercise his ability to test free agency. The Lakers will likely work hard to hammer out an extension with the 35-year-old if he plans to play beyond his current contract.
There is also the growing belief that Davis’ next deal with LA could be tied to James’ stint. Another detail that should factor into the equation is the team’s expected financial flexibility. That should lend to them bring in more talent to keep the franchise in title contention.
Much can unfold in the coming months, but it’s clear that the future is bright with the Lakers with LeBron James guiding the way.