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LeBron James’s Battle with Father Time Gets Eye-Opening Update

Feb 18, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Western Conference forward LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball during the first half of the 73rd NBA All Star game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Despite 16-year NBA veteran Kevin Durant suggesting that he, 15-year NBA veteran Stephen Curry, and 21-year NBA veteran LeBron James could play into their 40s, the Chosen One all but put those thoughts to bed. Ahead of the 2024 NBA All-Star Game, James says that he won’t be in the league “too many” more seasons (h/t ESPN’s Tim Bontemps).

“I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it’s coming,” James says, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s coming, for sure.”

LeBron James’s Battle with Father Time Gets Eye-Opening Update

LeBron James Hears Father Time’s Footsteps

At 39 years old, LeBron James has spent more than half of his life in the NBA.

That may seem implausible, even when considering that he’s played 1,752 career games and 67,458 career minutes (playoffs included) and counting. One of the last prep-to-pro stars, James has competed against 35 percent of all NBA players and been participated in 30 percent of All-Star Games. To be frank, his longevity is difficult to fathom.

A player that’s given as much as to the game as any player, if not more, he’s the greatest player of an era. He’s in contention for the greatest player of all-time. Yet, there’s no question that James is on the final leg of his career. You don’t have to look too much further than his grizzled gray beard to see that.

That said, James has every right to hang up his jersey whenever he wants. But there’s no question that when James does finally decide to retire, there’s going to be a large void felt by the entire basketball world. Tasked with being the eventual face of the NBA since a teenager, James has exceeded expectations with success on and off the court. Ushering in an age of player empowerment, his value among his peers is only exceeded by his investment in low-income communities.

Polarizing. Beloved. Majestic.

“King James” has been the most magnetic force in basketball for so long that no single player can replace him as the face of the NBA.

Retirement Tour?

Addressing the possibility that he has a retirement tour, LeBron James played a familiar card. Coy as usual, James said it was “50-50,” per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. If not the popularized tour, he would emulate Tim Duncan, announcing his retirement after the season.

The only problem with that is that Duncan always stayed out of the spotlight. Meanwhile, James appreciates the adulation of his fans. He’s grown into a family man and has long been a gregarious friend. Those qualities paint the picture of a man who just wants to clock out of work and head home.

However, James has long loved the glitz and glamour, as well. Consequently, it seems far more likely that he has a retirement tour than not. Factoring in his dedication to honoring the game and the humility he carries from humble beginnings, it’s even more likely.

Here’s what James had to say about it:

“I’m going to be honest. Because there’s times when I feel like I guess I owe it to my fans that have been along this journey with me for two decades plus, to be able to give them that moment where it’s every city and whatever the case may be. And they give you your flowers or whatever the case may be. That seems cool.”

“I’ve never been that great with accepting like praise,” James says. “It’s a weird feeling for me.”

What to Believe

Prior through the 2022-23 season, LeBron James said that how long he plays largely depends on how long his mind and body allow. Midway through that season, James said he could play a few more years, in relation to his chasing the all-time scoring record.

Today, James is currently nursing an ankle injury. While that may seem minor, one has to wonder if that’s affecting his thinking. No player is immune to nicks and bruises. However, James has constantly been hampered by injuries over the past few seasons.

His durability was once one of his primary strengths, as he constantly avoided injury. In fact, James played in at least 74 games in 13 of his first 15 seasons. Yet, he’s played in fewer than 60 games in four of his first five seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. With that said, James’ health could be the ultimate factor in how long he stays in the NBA.

Another factor would be how long he remains motivated. A deep playoff run with the Lakers, if not a Finals run, could be the panacea for his contentment. Yet, James will likely be a free agent this season or next. Furthermore, his sons are nearly ready to enter the NBA.

There are several challenges and missions that could keep him on his toes whether he stays in California or not.


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