The 2023-24 season will mark LeBron James‘ 21st in the NBA. The Los Angeles Laker is currently 38 years of age, turning 39 on December 30th. In his historic career, he has won two championships with Miami Heat, one with Cleveland Cavaliers, and the most recent with the Lakers. The future Hall of Famer has appeared in 10 NBA Finals. Will LeBron win his fifth ring this year in a historic career? Or does this mean we are witnessing the end for one of the best players of all time?
21st Season for LeBron James: Road to the 5th or Retirement?
Road to the 5th Ring
Last season, LeBron James and Anthony Davis took the Lakers all the way to the Western Conference Finals. James averaged around 35.5 minutes a game, 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. Since being swept by the Nuggets, LeBron has been putting in work. According to ESPN, Rob Pelinka has nothing but praise for the 20-year veteran.
Pelinka said, “He’s been doing 6 a.m. workouts. Probably been in our building as much as any player this offseason…”
Apparently, he is training his 21st season like it’s his first. LeBron has been hitting the weight room constantly in pursuit of his 5th ring. But he is not the only one preparing for a winning season.
The Lakers have been making moves this offseason to get LeBron his 5th ring. To prepare for LeBron’s 21st season, the team re-signed Jarred Vanderbilt to a veteran extension. The Lakers also re-signed Davis, Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, and D’Angelo Russell. They have signed Christian Wood, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes. They also drafted two rookies: Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis.
Road to An Early Retirement?
Winning an NBA championship is easier said than done, especially with a stacked Western Conference to get through. Teams like Golden State Warriors and the defending-champion Denver Nuggets, will always be competition. The Clippers, Mavericks, Suns, Grizzlies are also tough competition. Then you have a stacked Eastern Conference, with teams like Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, 76ers, Hawks, and Cavaliers. Then, as if a Giannis led Bucks team was not hard enough, they got one of the best players to team up with the Greek Freak: Damian Lillard.
At 38 years old, 39 before the season is over, LeBron James does not have a lot of time left in the NBA. Although James has looked better than ever, the decline is there, even if it isn’t as obvious. He was injured for 27 games last season, his game time has seen a slight decrease, and he is not as fast and agile as he used to be. However, LeBron can still go out and give it his all as a critical factor for the Los Angeles Lakers. Early retirement might not seem likely, but James could see maybe one or two more years before calling it quits. Yes, he wants to play with his son, Bronny James, but the question is can his body hold out, and will an injury be a deciding factor?
LeBron’s Legacy is Not Finished
Although he is seeing a slight decline Lebron James has cemented his legacy as one of the all time greats. Even being considered by many as the GOAT of Basketball. As long as LeBron James plays for the Lakers, they are still contenders. So, a road to the 5th is not as crazy as it seems. However, there are a lot of crazy teams that are huge roadblocks along the way. Early retirement does not seem likely, but give it a season or two, and it could be the end of an era for King James. Early retirement or road to the 5th, we are witnessing the closing chapter (or chapters) of one of the best to ever do it.