The story of the summer surrounding the NBA was a simple one. LeBron James. Where would he go? Why would he go there? And so on. Ultimately he would choose the Los Angeles Lakers. But if you ask Jerry West, it wasn’t a big deal. In fact, luring James wasn’t tough at all per Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum:
“All due respect to the Lakers, who handled everything well, but, as these things go, LeBron was not a tough free-agent signing. LeBron wanted to come to L.A. and he wanted to come to the Lakers. Period.”
While that might be downplaying it slightly, West does have a point. It’s all about family for LeBron at this point in his career.
“He has a family he’s thinking about. … a home here. He has a son whom he wants to keep in one school in Los Angeles.”
In the meantime, the Lakers are coming off another losing season (35-47) but they exceeded their relatively low expectations. With the likes of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram still around, there’s plenty to be excited about in Los Angeles. Adding James only helps that. But West gives one more reason as to why LeBron wanted LA.
“He will be a celebrity out here, sure, but it’s a place where, once in a while, he can get lost, be himself. You can’t do that everywhere.”
The Lakers are just hoping this journey eventually leads to another championship. After all, they haven’t had a winning season since 2012-13. They haven’t won a championship since 2009-10. LeBron James is capable of greatness; he’s arguably the greatest player to ever grace a basketball court.
But even if West thinks luring him wasn’t tough, the Lakers still have plenty of work to do. The Western Conference is far from easy.