LeBron’s no stranger to people speculating about his age and his future in the NBA… But after yet another lacklustre season of basketball, speculation over his potential retirement has never been greater.
After his 20th NBA season ended in an unceremonious sweep – with the Los Angeles Lakers going down to the Denver Nuggets in game four of the 2023 Western Conference Finals on Monday – LeBron James seemed to publically mull his retirement.
At the post-game press conference, the GOAT said that “going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.”
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin pressed him for more details: “When you say you got to think about stuff, what thread should we be pulling on that?”
“If I want to continue to play,” James said. “As in next year?” McMenamin questioned, with LeBron responding in the affirmative. “You would walk away?”
“I got to think about it,” LeBron enigmatically concluded.
What do LeBron’s comments mean?
Perhaps we were too carried away by such deflating defeat that we looked too far ahead. What LeBron said was ‘he’s got to think about it’ which is very different from if he had said ‘I am thinking about retirement’. That means he’s not thought about it yet but that option is to be considered. But perhaps he was too carried away with being swept in the Conference Finals for the first time in his illustrious career that he even said that.
It’s not as if he’s playing badly, though. Looking at how he played, James did better than all of his teammates and most of the Denver Nuggets except Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. For the record, King James averaged 27.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 10.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in the Conference Finals, albeit his team lost.
In that uneventful Game 4 where he muffed two chances to tie the game and send it to overtime, James became the oldest player to score 40 points in an NBA playoffs game and he was one assist from recording a triple-double. He torched the Nuggets for 31 first-half points, the best-ever scoring half of his 20-year career. He’s clearly got a lot in the tank.
LeBron is still clearly holding his own against most NBA players, even at age 38. He may have his doubts now but when he thinks clearer, he will realize he still has more to offer the game, regardless of what his critics say.
WATCH LeBron’s historic 40-point performance below.
LeBron wants to play with his son, Bronny
For all his accolades and achievements, LeBron James has always said his biggest triumph would be playing alongside his son Bronny in the NBA. Last January, King James reiterated his desire to play on the same team as his eldest son when he said “I need to be on the floor with my boy.” Although he seemed to ‘amend’ his stance on that after Game 4, there’s no doubt that it’s what the King wants.
Bronny recently announced that he will be attending USC, which means he will even be closer to LeBron in Los Angeles. LeBron’s son is eligible to enter the NBA Draft next year.
LBJ signed a two-year extension last summer and the first year of the deal kicks in next season, with a player option in 2025. While he has jumped from one team to another, it’s worth noting that James has honoured all his previous contracts.
Losing to the Nuggets was a tough pill to swallow for LeBron James. After beating the Warriors in Round 2, expectations were high in Los Angeles. But looking back, the Nuggets are the No. 1 seed in the West and they only did what they were supposed to do.
The Lakers meanwhile, knocked off 2nd seed Memphis and the defending champions Golden State.
No question, LeBron will be back next season and play at least two more seasons. It may not necessarily be in LA but look for him to pursue his dream of playing with his son. A legendary career like his deserves a storybook ending and it will likely get one.