I am a genuine LeBron James fan, and I have regrettably been a Lakers fan for years. So, on the outside, it would seem like the biggest free agency signing in a long time would make all my hopes and dreams come true. But I would have rather seen him retire.
Let me preface my reasoning for a lack of enthusiasm by explaining my love of each.
If you weren’t a fan of James in his first stint with the Cavaliers, you aren’t a fan of freakish size and athleticism meeting a basketball court. Carrying teammates with names like Zydrunas Ilgauskas to an NBA Finals was just a lot of fun to watch.
As someone who is not a fan of the age of the super team, I still defend his move to Miami. It seemed more like his version of a college experience, a four-year stay having fun in a desirable place, but simultaneously maturing in the process.
To me, that is a lot different than Kevin Durant joining one of the best teams in history to chase a ring because he couldn’t beat them after having a 3-1 series lead, but I digress.
After breaking the championship ice with a pair of aging all-stars, how can you not love the fact that he put it in writing that his mission was to bring a championship to his hometown? What a way to win over a crowd after becoming the league-wide villain for “The Decision."
Of course, he did what he set out to do and brought a championship to one of the worst sports cities in America. He put himself in the discussion for greatest of all time as he put a bunch of players on his back and carried the Cavaliers to four straight NBA Finals.
Anyone who gives an undue amount of credit to Kyrie Irving for the championship and Finals appearances needs to be reminded that Irving led the Cavs to seasons with 33, 24 and 21 wins before James showed up.
What makes LeBron great is that he instantly turns his team into a title contender. You can’t say the same about anyone else, including Michael Jordan, who never won a playoff game without a Hall of Famer as his teammate.
No matter who he has around him, LeBron will be challenging for a ring when June rolls around. This is why a Lakers team which hasn’t won more than 35 games since 2012 is now sitting with the second-best odds to win next year’s championship, according to sportsbooks in Vegas.
As for why a kid from Alabama with no apparent connection to Los Angeles became a Lakers fan, it really is just because I loved rooting for winning. I hope you can forgive me for being a bandwagon at the age of 10.
But I left the fair-weather phase and decided to stick with the Lakers. I stuck with the team through years of embarrassment. The only real highlight in the past six or so seasons was Kobe throwing up 50 shots in his last game, which is the coolest thing to happen that does not matter at all.
Simply put, the team was desperate, and unless I’m severely wrong, drafting Lonzo Ball was not going to restore the glory days. So, why am I not running to buy a No. 23 purple and gold jersey?
Well, frankly, the move just seems pointless.
I can’t blame LeBron for wanting to stop banging his head against the wall in the Finals against the Warriors and try something new. And I definitely can’t blame him for wanting to leave Cleveland, which seems like it is cold and rainy upwards of 300 days of the year.
But he’s also talked publicly about how championship rings don’t mean as much to him anymore. And going to a team that hasn’t been in the playoffs in years doesn’t appear to be ring chasing.
It’s also important to remember that LeBron has talked about wanting to play in the league at the same time as his oldest son who is 13. James, 33, would have to play into his late 30’s for that to even be possible, he definitely can’t do it playing at his current rate of nearly 40 minutes a night.
LeBron is notorious for being in peak physical shape and avoiding injury, but the 15-year career will eventually catch up to him. Not to mention, the amount of playoff games he has played in is equivalent to an extra three regular seasons.
A large portion of why LeBron chose Los Angeles as his new home is because it was already becoming his home. In fact, he already owned two houses in the city before the move. His family likes it there, and he wants to pursue other Hollywood and business opportunities.
On top of all of this, he is moving into the backyard of the Warriors, who have a tight stranglehold on the Western Conference. And after the Warriors picked up another one of the best players in the league in DeMarcus Cousins, the video game-esque lineup is not going anywhere for years.
So, with all that in mind, it makes most sense to me for LeBron to retire for a few years and make a comeback closer to when his son will be coming into his own.
The NBA isn’t going anywhere. There will always be teams clamoring to lure him to their city. But in the meantime, why not relax and enjoy his family and tend to a promising career off the court?
He achieved the longtime goal of winning a championship. Then, he achieved the goal of winning a championship in his hometown. There’s not much else to do except keep falling short against a team that continues to gain a monopoly on all-stars.
So, yes it might be cool to see my favorite player on my favorite team, and no, I am not the scriptwriter of LeBron’s career. But it seems like him putting on the purple and gold in the city of angels is just a slow death into a grey, bleak final chapter.