Following the Lakers’ Western Conference Finals loss in late May, LeBron James left some doubt about his future plans, saying, “I got a lot to think about, to be honest, and just for me personally going forward the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about.” Since then, fans wondered if James’ cryptic response was alluding to him seriously considering retirement.
But for anyone who believed James was hanging it up, fear not. I know, surprising, right?!
Last night at the 2023 ESPYs show, James won the Best Record-Breaking Performance — an award in honor of breaking the NBA and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record earlier this season. During his acceptance speech, James addressed his self-induced controversy around when it’ll be his time to retire, saying, “The day I can’t play without giving everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.”
Corny, of course, but that’s LeBron.
But also, why would he be done? It’s not like he’s Viserys Targaryen — one of these fading old timers that can no longer hack it.James has been at least a top 35 fantasy player in every season except for his rookie year — where he was 47th. That’s quite GOAT-ish. But I have questions about his health.
Fortunately, general manager Rob Pelinka did a tremendous job replenishing the Lakers’ depth this offseason, re-signing Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura. And bringing in free agents like Gabe Vincent, Jaxson Hayes, Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish only deepens that bench. That’s the kind of depth that will help James get through the season.
And as much as James has been the model for consistency and longevity in any sport, it’s worth mentioning he’s played in just 67% of regular season games over the past three seasons.
The man is 38 years old, going on 39. Durability is the Lakers’ most critical component if they intend to compete for another championship.As such, I’m docking James a few spots from last year’s 23rd finish in nine-cat H2H formats and have penciled him in at 28th overall in my initial rankings, which should drop very soon.