LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers finally made the decision to return for his 21st NBA season after considering retiring over the summer.
The Lakers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, so no one actually expected James to retire at that point. Nevertheless, it was only natural for a player who is about to turn 39 years old and has achieved everything there is in the NBA to wonder how much longer he can continue playing.
But now that his foot is recovered and James has seen the improvements Rob Pelinka made to the Lakers throughout the winter, he feels reenergized and prepared to deliver another championship to Los Angeles in 2023–24.
After practice on Saturday, LeBron expressed his enthusiasm for this Lakers squad and his inspiration for the next season, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic:
“I just think for one, it’s just my motivation to continue to be as great as I can be and solidify what I want to do in my career and still seeing that Larry O’Brien trophy in my mind on a daily basis. So that’s one of the best four moments of my career, being able to hoist up that trophy. So, that motivation alone. But also wanting to be legendary in this game and let my game speak for itself long after I’ve played. But this team has motivated me as well. Coming to practice every day, seeing the guys go to work every day, challenging each other, trying to get better every day. Implement what we want to do. And so, that’s been motivating as well.”
James continues to be among the NBA’s top players when healthy. With a performance of 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists in 48 minutes against the Nuggets to close the previous series, the Lakers advanced significantly despite his limited health.
He must be particularly enthused about this season since the Lakers’ increased depth should help limit his workload during the regular season so that he is rested for the playoffs. The Lakers did not have that luxury the previous season when they had to battle their way up the Western Conference standings and through the Play-In Tournament simply to qualify for the playoffs after starting 2-10.
The Lakers are hoping to have a strong start to the regular season with the return of several post-trade deadline players and signings of quality players like Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, and Christian Wood. That would enable LeBron to adjust his workload day by day, which has been a hot subject of discussion throughout training camp.
The oldest NBA player still playing is LeBron James.
LeBron James is the NBA’s oldest player as a result of Andre Iguodala and Udonis Haslem’s formal summer retirements.
P.J. Tucker of the Philadelphia 76ers and close buddy Chris Paul of the Golden State Warriors are the next two players on the list of oldest active players after James, who will be 39 in December.