LeBron James, newly extended with the newly dynastic Los Angeles Lakers, has everything figured out.
It’s all familiar to him… except that which is familial.
“Trying to figure out how there is College California basketball teams playing, soon to be Pro teams playing but not High School teams playing,” he wrote on his Twitter feed recently.
LeBron brings that up only because his plans for the Laker dynasty now extend to 2023. That’s the year his son, Sierra Canyon High sophomore Bronny James, becomes draft-eligible.
“I damn sure would love to stick around if my oldest son can have an opportunity to play against me,” James said three years ago in an interview with GQ. “That’d be the icing on the cake right there.”
It’s LeBron’s competitive nature that stokes his desire to play against his son rather than with him. The all-time leader in NBA playoff victories craves to be the best — even in his own household.
Bronny, 16, has been making a name for himself, earning an ESPN national ranking of No. 24 in the Class of 2023.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined Sierra Canyon along with the rest of California’s high school teams. But LeBron and his superhero sidekick, Anthony Davis, return to training camp today after getting locked into long-term deals with the Lakers on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a shorter season with a quick turnaround for us, but I’m ready to get going,” Davis said.
He signed a five-year contract worth a staggering $190 million. James inked a two-year extension worth $85 million which will keep him with the Lakers until 2023.
“LeBron put his trust in the Lakers in 2018, and now this contract extension paves the way for LeBron to further solidify his legacy as an all-time Lakers great,” general manager Rob Pelinka said. “We could not be more honored by this commitment.”
And perhaps 2023 gives Pelinka enough time to save up for Bronny, too.
But it’s actually more about hoarding rings than riches, Davis insisted.
“When we won the Western Conference Finals, LeBron said ‘Just wait until you win a championship and you hold that trophy,’” he said. “Your love for winning just grows, and ever since holding that trophy I just want to do it again. You want to hold that trophy over and over and over, you get addicted to winning
“I’m ready to get started again and I’m ready to get with this group of guys and get back to work to be able to hoist one of those trophies again.”
Those guys will now also include Montrezl Harrell, who changed L.A. teams after winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award last season with the Clippers.
The Lakers also traded for Dennis Schröder, who finished second to Harrell in the Sixth Man voting. The NBA’s apparent “Seventh Man of the Year” averaged 18.9 points and 4.0 assists for Oklahoma City last season.
The Lakers also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope while adding free agents Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol to the roster. They’re making all the right moves to give their team staying power.
James trumpeted Gasol’s acquisition even though he gets jokingly defensive about the Defensive Player of the Year Award the big center won in 2012-13.
“I’m happy as hell to have Big Marc Gasol… another champion, won with the Raptors two years ago, who I’ve always loved,” James began. “Marc has my Defensive Players of the Year trophy at his house, but that’s not here nor there… I love you Marc, I can’t wait to talk about this.”
There is also talk that the Lakers want to bring back Gasol’s older brother, Pau, to serve as his backup. Pau, now 39, was the Robin to Kobe Bryant’s Batman when the Lakers won back-to-back NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.
“My intention is to play another season if the foot is OK, either in the NBA or in Europe,” the older Gasol said. “A final season with the Lakers is attractive.”
Another ring would bring him full circle — while also giving James a fistful of five.
“We can,” LeBron replied when asked if the Lakers will repeat as champs. “I mean, it’s that simple.”
So is his desire to be playing in a game with his son. He made a point of it just before the NBA Finals of 2018.
“You want to ask me what is the greatest achievement of my life?” James asked. “If I’m on the same court as my son in the NBA. That would be number one in my lifetime as an NBA player.”
He just needs the son to rise before his own sun sets.