LeBron James has spent the last two-plus years playing for the LA Lakers. His contract runs through the next couple of seasons and possibly longer. With that discussion lingering down the line, James has quickly shot down the idea of playing for one NBA team.
LeBron James elevated the Lakers to an NBA title
After months of speculation, James chose to ink a four-year, $153.3 million deal to join the Lakers in July 2018.
The star forward’s arrival drastically changed the franchise’s trajectory, placing it back directly into the league’s limelight. James’ first season in LA didn’t unravel as hoped; he narrowly missed the playoffs as injuries played a significant part in the team’s shortcomings.
The Lakers’ fate changed again the following offseason after they acquired star big man Anthony Davis and immediately transformed into a powerhouse. LA marched its way to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in a decade while clinching its first playoff berth in seven years.
James and Davis anchored an impressive run to an NBA title, finishing with a 16-5 overall record and only being pushed to six games in NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. The 36-year-old captured his fourth NBA title and fourth Finals MVP behind his dominating play.
His decision to join the Lakers initially received backlash due to the team’s struggles before his arrival. Those conversations quickly dissipated as he marked his place in franchise history by securing an NBA championship.
As he moves through his Lakers tenure, James has made it clear that he won’t ever join one team.
LeBron James adamantly shoots down joining 1 NBA team: ‘I’ll just retire’
James has quickly become comfortable spending the last two-plus seasons with the Lakers.
As the star forward nears two decades in the league, questions concerning his NBA future beyond his stint in LA have emerged. During a recent taping of HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted, James voiced that he would never sign with the Orlando Magic due to the 2020 bubble experience.
“You gotta understand anytime I hear ‘Orlando’ right now, I get PTSD,” James said.
The 36-year-old continued by voicing that he’d rather retire than join the Magic.
“They have no chance,” James adamantly said. “I’ll just retire. It’s over with. ‘LeBron’s been traded to Orlando. LeBron lives in Malibu.’”
During the Orlando bubble situation, James was quite vocal about how draining the experience was mentally. It has left a strong imprint on his emotions toward the city, erasing any chance he joins the Magic if that opportunity ever presented itself.
James is perfectly happy playing for the Lakers while living in Southern California. Things could certainly change once his contract expires, but it’s crystal clear that playing for the Magic isn’t a realistic possibility in any scenario.
Commitment to the Lakers extended
Beyond the recent comments, James remains fully committed to the Lakers.
The four-time league MVP extended his stint after agreeing to a two-year extension that pushes him under contract through the 2022-23 campaign. The deal runs through his 20th year, leaving the door open for him to either add to his LA tenure or play elsewhere.
The big elephant in the room remains the possibility that his son, LeBron James Jr., jumps to the NBA in the 2023 draft. The 36-year-old has repeatedly hinted at his desire to play alongside his son, which would make them the first father-son duo to accomplish that feat in league history.
“That’s definitely one of my goals, but that’s a long-term goal,” James said via Mark Medina of USA TODAY Sports, emphasizing that his son’s professional career is still a ways off. “My son right now is in high school and enjoying what being a teenager is all about. But that would be pretty cool to go on my resume.”
It’s certainly an option, and time will tell if James will get that unique opportunity.