LeBron James altered his illustrious NBA career path after signing with the LA Lakers in free agency in July 2018. Since then, James secured his fourth NBA title while presenting a bright future ahead in LA. However, it was a route that nearly saw him head to the New York Knicks if not for his wife.
LeBron James signs with the Lakers
Throughout the 2017-18 season, James dealt with chatter concerning his reported interest in joining the Lakers.
The star forward routinely sidestepped that notion, with his sole focus on guiding the Cleveland Cavaliers to a second NBA title. However, things shifted into high gear in the offseason as James quickly moved toward that rumored path.
At the start of free agency, he spoke with then-Lakers’ president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and later signed a four-year, $153.3 million deal. James’ arrival completely shifted the franchise’s outlook, pushing it swiftly back into relevancy after years of floundering well out of the playoffs.
The move initially received backlash as many critics believe it was made for reasons outside of basketball due to the Lakers being far from a playoff-caliber team. Although LA failed to make the postseason in James’ first season, the roster quickly transformed into a championship contender.
LA acquired star forward Anthony Davis in June 2019, which elevated the team to tremendous success capped by winning the 2020 NBA title. However, before James embarked on that path, he nearly chose to join the Knicks.
LeBron James’ wife nixed any chance of him joining the Knicks
After James‘ final season with the Cavaliers, he took the path in free agency that many anticipated.
The four-time league MVP may have taken that route, but it was a decision that came with some heavy consideration to join the Knicks. During a recent appearance on “Brian Windhorst & The Hoops Collective” podcast, Vanity Fair’s Lisa Robinson revealed James’ wife Savanna dissuaded him from heading to New York.
“We heard that LeBron wanted to come to New York. And I have really good sources about this, that he was thinking about coming to New York but that his wife wanted to be in Los Angeles, wanted the kids to go to school in Los Angeles, and that just kiboshed the whole thing,” Robinson said via The New York Post.
Although James had substantial interest, it’s a massive decision that required his family to move. His wife wanted to relocate to LA, making the choice simple to join a historically successful franchise in the Lakers.
It marks the second time that James brushed the Knicks aside as he elected instead to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat in 2010. Beyond that, these comments may indicate there’s no chance the future first-ballot Hall of Famer will ever don a Knicks’ uniform before he retires.
Eyeing another NBA title with the Lakers
The previous free agency chatter aside, James holds the opportunity to guide the Lakers to another NBA title.
LA limped through the second half of the regular season due to significant injuries. Despite that, the Lakers secured the seventh overall playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Phoenix Suns comfortably marched to a Game 1 win, but LA responded with a strong collective effort in Game 2 on Tuesday night. James recorded a near double-double with 23 points and nine assists, while Davis led the charge behind a game-high 34 points.
The Lakers hold the daunting task ahead of becoming the first seventh seed to capture an NBA title. Any chance of accomplishing that lies directly on James and Davis’ shoulders.