NBA legend LeBron James turned 37 this month, and that has only increased speculation about his medium to long-term future in the game. Now into his 19th season and looking as dominant as ever, his Los Angeles Lakers side are struggling to get a run of form together and are on course to miss out on the postseason.
The offseason saw general manager Rob Pelinka bring in a raft of big names, the most prominent of which being Russell Westbrook, but Frank Vogel’s side is in a poor position in the Pacific Division, and talk of James’ calling it quits has increased of late.
The Los Angeles Lakers started the season as the second favorite for the NBA crown, behind the Brooklyn Nets, and as you can see when you visit this website, they have fallen way down in the betting since then. They are now (+1200) with a push to the postseason, more than likely having to be via the play-in tournament at this rate.
LeBron James has, of course, won his fair share of plaudits and awards, as well as four NBA title rings, but what could the future hold for the Akron-born star? The Lakers star seems quite measured in his response to the likely end of his career appearing on the horizon, stating;
“I know I’m on the other side of the hill, compared to the hill I was on before. I know that.”
“But, I mean, I’ve thought about it — where I’m at with it. I’m still playing at such a high level; I haven’t given it too much thought. But I’m in Year 19, and I’m not going to do another 19. So I’m definitely not halfway in my career. I’m on the other side of the hill.”
Sounds like someone that full-recognized his basketball mortality.
“So, we’ll see where the game takes me. We’ll see where my body takes me and my mind. As long as my mind stays fresh and my body stays with that, I can play the game. But, in the end, the game will tell you. Your body will tell you. Your mind will tell you. I’ve put in enough hours and punched enough clocks where, when that time comes, I’ll be OK with it.”
By all accounts, LeBron is keen to line up with his son, Bronny, who would be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft, and that may be a milestone he is aiming for, a very reasonable one.
There is always a fear that greats of any sport overstay their welcome, like an ageing boxer agreeing to a pummelling into old age, but LeBron still has plenty in the tank, and the criticisms he faces are usually only when he’s compared to his previous best, as opposed to current players, which is perhaps a sign of his elevated status in the pantheon of NBA greats.
Many players have played long into their 40s, so a couple more seasons at the top could be enough for James to call it time though perhaps if he were to secure one more NBA title, he’d then choose to go out on a high, and that doesn’t seem likely to happen this season, and therefore Lakers fans have a lot more of LeBron to enjoy for now.