LeBron James’ retirement comment reportedly surprised Lakers and people close to him
LeBron James opened the door for a possible retirement following the Los Angeles Lakers’ season-ending loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday. Many aren’t buying it as a real possibility, though.
When James said Monday that he had “a lot to think about” in terms of his future, people around James were “surprised,” according to The Athletic.
James’ statement following the four-game sweep in the Western Conference finals also “came as a surprise to many Los Angeles staffers,” though there’s “widespread skepticism” that he’ll retire, Yahoo Sports reported Thursday.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham told reporters Tuesday that they would give James the time needed for him to make a final decision.
“LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who’s ever played. When you do that, you earn the right to decide if you want to give more,” Pelinka said. “Obviously, our hope would be that his career continues.”
If James decides to return and continue his basketball career, he could be sidelined for a bit. James played through a torn tendon over the final weeks of the regular season and through the Lakers’ playoff run that might require surgery, according to The Athletic.
James suffered the foot injury on Feb. 26 during a game against the Dallas Mavericks. While he finished the game, James didn’t return to game action until March 26. James’ return to action that quickly was viewed as a surprise by many, as it came earlier than initially reported.
“I went to the LeBron James of feet, and he told me I should [delay possible surgery],” James told reporters then.
James was also coy then about possibly needing surgery following the season.
“I’ll probably get another MRI at the end of the season and go from there,” James said in March. “But if I end up having to get surgery after the season, you guys won’t know. I don’t talk to you guys in the offseason, and by the time next season starts, I’ll be fine. I’ll be ready to go.”
James, who doesn’t turn 39 until late December, had a notable dip in some areas of his game in the postseason. He scored 24.5 points per game (down from 28.9 points per game in the regular season) as he shot 49.8% from the field (down from 50% in the regular season) and 26.4% from 3-point range (down 32.1% in the regular season).
James, who has won four NBA titles and four MVPs, doesn’t have much else to play for accomplishment-wise after he became the NBA’s all-time scoring leader this season. He’s said for years that he would like to play with his son Bronny in the NBA, but he softened that stance following Monday’s season-ending loss.
“I’ve done what I’ve had to do in this league, and my son is going to take his journey,” James told ESPN. “And whatever his journey, however his journey lays out, he’s going to do what’s best for him. And as his dad, and his mom, Savannah, and his brother and sister, we’re going to support him in whatever he decides to do. So, just because that’s my aspiration or my goal, doesn’t mean it’s his. And I’m absolutely OK with that.”
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