LeBron James made his way down the ramp to exit the arena on Monday night, having just finished his 20th season in the NBA with an unceremonious sweep out of the playoffs. He did not know if it would be the final time he would make the walk as an active player because he did not know if it would be the last time he would finish his career as a player.
During the offseason, James stated that he will give retirement some thought.
James ended his postgame news conference by telling reporters, “Going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.” James had scored 40 points and played all but four seconds of the Los Angeles Lakers 113-111 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 4. His last-second floater to try to force overtime was blocked at the buzzer. After the game, James told reporters, “I’ve got a lot to think about.”
Following the press conference, NBA Online Betting PH asked James about the specifics of his comments.
When you say, you need to think about issues, which direction should we tug on that particular thread?
“If I want to continue to play,” James stated. “If I want to continue to play.”
What, the year after that?
You would walk away?
“I need some time to think about it.”
James, who is now 38 years old, capped up his season by guiding the seventh-seeded Lakers to the championship round of the Western Conference.
He managed to participate in all 17 of Los Angeles’ postseason games, including the play-in victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite suffering from an ailment to his right foot that forced him to sit out for an entire month during the end of the regular season due to a torn tendon.
When James hurt his foot on February 26 against the Dallas Mavericks, he said he heard a pop before the injury occurred. He went to a number of different doctors, and several of them advised him to have surgery. Finally, he found a specialist whom he referred to as “the LeBron James of feet,” he was assured that he could rehab the injury and return to the court without having to undergo any surgical procedures.
“I’m going to get an MRI on it and see how the tendon either healed or not healed, and then we’ll go from there,” James said to E on Monday in response to a question on whether or not surgery would be a possibility this summer. What unfolds before us remains to be seen.”
Although James acknowledged that his foot injury affected his performance after he returned, he did not consider ending his season prematurely. This was not the case in 2021-22 when he missed the final five games of the season because of a lingering ankle injury, nor was it the case in 2018-19, when he missed the final six games of the season because of a groin strain that hadn’t fully healed.
James said he was confident in his ability to cross the finish line. “I knew I had to deal with it and deal with the pain or deal with not being able to be myself before the injury,” she said, “but there was nothing that made me feel like I couldn’t get to the finish line.”
James was outstanding in Game 4 against Denver, setting a new personal high for points in a half in a playoff game by lighting the Nuggets up for 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting by halftime. James was playing in the 282nd postseason game of his career when he accomplished this feat.
Although he finished the game with nearly twice as many points as his next closest teammate (Anthony Davis scored 21), James was eventually unsuccessful in his attempts to tie the game down the stretch. First, he missed a fadeaway shot with 26 seconds remaining, and then Aaron Gordon blocked his shot as time ran out.
James’s current deal with the Lakers calls for him to play one more season for a salary of $46.7 million in 2023–24, after which he will have the option to play for an additional $50.4 million in the following season.
Over the course of the past few years, he has made it abundantly clear that before he hangs up his cleats, he intends to fulfill his dream of competing in the league alongside his eldest son, Bronny, at least once. In February, while he was getting close to breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for all-time points scored, he said that the only thing left for him to accomplish after he broke the record was “I got to play with my boy.”
However, he has recently been more flexible regarding that viewpoint. James readjusted the expectation after the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the second-round series. This victory coincided with the day Bronny announced that he would play collegiate basketball for the USC Trojans in the upcoming season.
“I’ve done what I’ve had to do in this league, and now my son is going to take his journey,” he remarked. “And no matter what his journey brings, no matter how his adventure unfolds, he is going to do what is best for him. And as his father, mother, Savannah, and brother and sister, we will be there for him and support him no matter what he decides to accomplish in life. Therefore, the fact that I have that as an objective or aspiration does not entail that he also has it. And I have zero issues with that at all.”
A source close to LeBron James stated that the L.A. Lakers’ run in the postseason was challenging for James in a variety of different ways. For example, there were the long trips and physical play during the series against the Memphis Grizzlies; the mental and emotional exhaustion caused by tearing down his former opponents during the series against the Golden State Warriors; and sacrificing everything he had left to give against Denver, but still losing the series 4-0.
Davis was taken aback when he learned about James’ postgame comments following Monday’s defeat and was informed of them. Davis, like James, is under contract with the Lakers for the upcoming season. He is one of only a few players with deals on a roster that might see a lot of movement this summer. James is also under contract with the Lakers.
Davis, however, after giving the remarks some additional thought, recalled a recent conversation he had with James in which he informed James that he “might have one more in me” when talking about the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The chat was about the Olympics. James told Davis that it was possible that he would already be finished by then. Assuming that James had misunderstood him, Davis clarified that he was referring to the summer of 2019 for USA Basketball, not the summer of 2028 in Los Angeles.
James reminded Davis that he might have finished his career well before the Olympics in the following year.
James will have some time to himself to reflect for the time being. First, he plans to have a doctor examine his foot. After that, it will depend on how the Lakers are positioned for the upcoming season for him to determine whether or not to play in season No. 21.
In spite of the fact that there is a part of him that is beginning to wonder if it’s time to leave, there is still a part of him that is very much still involved in it.
When asked if he thought that an entire summer of rehabilitation could get him back to the player he was before his foot injury, James responded with a positive answer.
“Because I’m still better than 90% of the NBA,” he told me after the game. “Maybe 95.”