LeBron James ended weeks of speculation about his future when he announced during the ESPY Awards that he will be playing his 21st NBA season this fall.
LeBron says he’s not retiring pic.twitter.com/UtezL2oBK4
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) July 13, 2023
“The real question for me is, can I play without cheating this game?” said James. “The day I can’t give the game everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.”
James made a comment after Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals that implied he would consider stepping away from the game this offseason. It was dismissed in many corners as a big nothing, but of course, one has to wonder about an athlete who is 38 years of age, has tons of wear and tear and had to carry his team for the majority of this past season.
The 2022-23 season saw James surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the league’s all-time leading scorer, but it was also one that saw him deal with painful ailments in both of his feet, including a torn tendon in his right foot. He sat out for a month toward the end of the regular season as a result of the latter injury.
Other than that, the four-time MVP still managed to average 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists a game in the regular season. Those are remarkable numbers for any NBA player, let alone one with an insane amount of mileage and tread on his tires.
James will have plenty of help this coming season, as D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves will be back to help him with ball-handling and facilitating duties while taking some of the scoring burden off of him. In addition, Los Angeles re-signed forward Rui Hachimura, who gave them another legitimate scoring option, especially when James was resting, after he was acquired in January.
The 2023-24 campaign could very well be a triumphant one for James and the Lakers and end with both parties claiming another NBA championship.