By Sullivan Burgess ’20
While this summer was filled with incredible off-season trades and pickups in the NBA, one move that stood above the rest was the announcement of All-Star LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Los Angeles Lakers.
On July 1 of this summer, multiple news sources told the world that James, the former champion for the Cleveland Cavs, had agreed to a $153 million contract spanning four years with the Lakers. James had received offers from both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics before telling his agent, Rich Paul, that he would join the Lakers.
With the addition of James, the Lakers have added the one of the best and most recognized athletes in the country to one of the most successful sport teams in the nation.
This is not the first time the Lakers have acquired one of the game’s best players to their roster. Throughout their history, the Lakers have added multiple NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and, more recently, Shaquille O’Neal.
The decision sparked debate within the sports world and many were confused as to why James would sign with a team that went 35-47 and missed the playoffs. On the contrary, many understood his decision as the Lakers have a younger core of players.
Even though the Lakers finished far from playoff contention last season, the addition of James gives the Lakers plenty of hope to make a return to the playoffs after a five season drought.
Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said in a release that James is “special” and is “the best player in the world.”
“He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful,” Johnson’s statement continued.
“The Lakers players are excited to have a teammate who has been to nine NBA Finals. It’s a huge step closer to returning the Lakers to the playoffs and to the NBA Finals.”
With James, the Lakers put themselves back on the map as a main free agent destination after several seasons of struggling to attract top-tier players.
Following James’ announcement, the Lakers continued to add players, announcing the signing of veterans Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee.
Even at the age of 33, James remains one of the most athletic and versatile players in the league. Last season, he averaged 27.5 points per game and a career high 9.1 assists per game.
Coach Luke Walton has even expressed putting James, who is a natural forward, at center, and debuting a starting lineup consisting of Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and James.
While the Lakers themselves have nothing but high hopes for this upcoming season, with an improving young core to surround James, the team still has to make improvements in areas they struggled with last season, such as defense and three-point shooting.
Being one of the world’s most recognized athletes brings a lot of attention from the media across the country as James adds a new chapter to his storied career.