Rich Paul likens LeBron James nearing retirement to plane landing: ‘When you’re about to descend, there’s a warning’

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Per NBA insider Shams Charania, the expectation is that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will play one or two more seasons in the NBA before retiring.

“Yeah, Pat [McAfee], most people I talk to around LeBron James, about LeBron James, one to two more years is definitely the expectation that LeBron James is still going to play another year or two,” Charania said. “But it’s obvious — I mean based on his comments — he’s at the end of the road. And for players of LeBron James’ stature, it’s hard to come to grips with the reality of retirement.

“And I spoke to Rich Paul actually today about LeBron James’ future and — the openness that LeBron James is talking with about retirement and about being at the end of the road. Rich Paul told me, ‘It’s like landing a plane. You don’t just land right away. When you’re 45 minutes out — when you’re about to descend — there’s a warning. There’s a little bit of an announcement.’ And I think that’s where Rich Paul kind of said this is at.”

James is currently the oldest player in the NBA at 39 years old, but his age hasn’t stopped him from being one of the best players in the league this season. He is averaging 25.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per contest while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor as well as a career-high 41.6 percent from 3-point range.

In the Lakers’ most recent game against the Brooklyn Nets on March 31, James was practically automatic from deep. He buried all but one of his 10 3-point shots and finished with 40 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a game Los Angeles won by 12 points to improve to 42-33 on the season.

Los Angeles’ win over the Nets marked the end of Brooklyn’s winning streak, which lasted three games. The victory also marked the Lakers’ seventh win in their last 10 games.

Despite James’ advanced age — at least by NBA standards — he has served as the straw that stirs the Lakers’ offense in his 21st NBA season.

He leads the team in points per game — though Anthony Davis is just behind him with 24.7 points per contest — as well as assists per game. D’Angelo Russell is the sole other player on the Lakers who is averaging over six assists per game in the 2023-24 regular season.

From a league-wide perspective, James is averaging the 13th-most points per game of any player along with the sixth-most assists per game.

James and the Lakers will have a prime opportunity to earn their second win in a row when they play the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. The Raptors own one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference at 23-51 and are on a 13-game longest streak, which is the longest losing streak in the NBA right now.

Their latest win came against the Charlotte Hornets on March 3, which was almost a month ago.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.