Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James has previously expressed a desire to finish his career in Cleveland — where he was drafted in 2003, and where he played 11 seasons. When he announced his return to Cleveland from Miami in 2014 in Sports Illustrated he wrote: “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there.” Even as recently as 2017, James said that he still planned to finish his career in Cleveland.
However, since then James signed with the Lakers in free agency and was in the midst of leading them back to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons before the NBA suspended the 2019-20 campaign indefinitely due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Thus, things may have changed regarding what James feels about where he’ll spend the remainder of his career. During an Instagram video chat with fans on Thursday, James said that he doesn’t want to be anywhere else besides Los Angeles.
“What NBA team would I never play for? I’m still playing, man,” James said, via NBC Sports. “Hey, I’ve got to keep all my options open, man. But right now I’ll tell you one thing: I don’t want to go nowhere besides be here, baby. Be a Laker for the rest of my life.”
When it comes to comments like this from James — or professional athletes in general — you have to take them with a grain of salt. Things change fluidly in this league, and a year from now James could feel differently about how he wants to close out his career. Perhaps his son, Bronny, will fulfill his own NBA dreams and get drafted somewhere outside of L.A. which could lead to James wanting to go play alongside him. Or maybe Anthony Davis walks away in free agency and then James feels that his best chance to continue to contend for championships is elsewhere. Or the Lakers as an organization could decide to go in a different direction down the road. You just never know. With that said though, James’ comments are encouraging for Lakers fans, and less so for Cavaliers fans who were hoping for a little more time with the best player in franchise history.
James has a $41 million player option for the 2021-22 NBA season, which means that he will have an opportunity to turn the option down and hit free agency next summer. We’ll learn a whole lot more about his plans regarding his professional future at that point.