LeBron James says he will consider retiring this offseason

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James walked down the ramp out of the arena on Monday night, after ending his 20th NBA season with an unceremonious playoff sweep, unsure if this would be the last time he made that walk as an active player.

James told ESPN he would consider retiring this offseason.

After scoring 40 points and playing all but four seconds of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 113-111 loss to the Denver Nuggets – with his last-second floater to try to force overtime to be blocked at the buzzer – James put ended his news conference by telling reporters, “Going forward with basketball, I have a lot to think about.”

After the press conference, ESPN asked James to expand on his statement.

When you say you have to think about things, what thread should we pull on that?

“If I want to keep playing,” James said.

Like next year?


Would you walk away?

“I have to think about it.”

James, 38, concluded his campaign by leading the No. 7-seeded Lakers to the Western Conference Finals.

He played in all 17 LA postseason games – including the play-in win over the Minnesota Timberwolves – while managing a right foot injury that caused him to miss a month in a row late in the season. regularly because of a torn tendon.

James said he heard a pop when he injured his foot against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26. He consulted with a group of medical professionals, many of whom recommended surgery, before finding a doctor he described as “the LeBron James of feet” and was assured he could rehabilitate the injury and return. in court without procedure.

When asked on Monday if surgery might be an option this summer, James told ESPN: “I’m going to do an MRI on it and see how the tendon has healed or not and go from there. We’ll see what happens. .”

While James admitted his performance was affected by his foot injury after his return, he said he does not plan to end his season early, as was the case in 2021-22, when he has missed the last five games with a lingering ankle injury. and in 2018-19, when he sat out the last six contests with a groin strain that hadn’t fully healed.

“I knew I could get to the finish line,” James told ESPN. “Obviously I knew I had to deal with it and deal with the pain or not being able to be myself before the injury, but nothing made me feel like I couldn’t reach the finish line.”

James was brilliant in Game 4 against Denver, setting a new personal best for points in a half in a playoff game by lighting up the Nuggets for 31 points on 11 on 13 halftime shots while playing in the 282nd playoff game of his career. .

While he finished with nearly twice as many points as his next closest teammate (Anthony Davis scored 21), James ultimately came up short twice trying to tie the game down the stretch – first missing a fadeaway with 26 seconds remaining, then blocked by Aaron Gordon when time expired.

James still has one season left on his contract with the Lakers, worth $46.7 million for 2023-24, and a player option for the following season worth $50.4 million.

Over the past few years, he has repeatedly made it known that his goal is to play with his eldest son, Bronny, in the league before retiring. As he neared Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time record in February, he told ESPN the last thing left for him to do after the score was: “I have to play with my boy.”

However, he recently softened that stance. After the Lakers’ Game 3 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the second round — which coincided with the day Bronny said he would play college basketball for USC next season — James adjusted expectations.

“I did what I had to do in this league, and my son is going to have his way,” he said. “And whatever his journey, whatever his journey, he will do what is best for him. And as his father, and his mother, Savannah, and his brother and sister, we will support him in whatever he decides to do. So just because it’s my aspiration or my goal doesn’t mean it’s his. And I totally agree with that.

A source close to James told ESPN that the Los Angeles playoffs weighed on the Lakers star in various ways. There were the long flights and physical play in the Memphis Grizzlies series; emotional and mental fatigue in the Golden State series after taking down his former enemies; and giving it all it had left against Denver and still losing the series 4-0.

Davis, briefed by ESPN on James’ post-match comments following Monday’s loss, was initially surprised to hear them. Like James, Davis is under contract with the Lakers for next season – one of the few players with deals on a roster who could see a lot of movement this summer.

But after considering the remarks a bit longer, Davis recalled a recent conversation he had with James when he told James he “might get one more in me” while speaking of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. James told Davis he might be done by then. Davis, thinking James had heard him wrong, explained that he was talking about USA Basketball next summer, not 2028 in Los Angeles.

James reiterated to Davis that he could have already hung up his sneakers by the Olympics next year.

For now, James will have time to think. He’s going to have his foot checked. He’ll see what the Lakers look like next season and decide if he’s suitable for the No. 21 season.

Even though there’s a side to him that wonders if it’s time to leave, however, there’s still a side that’s still in it.

Asked by ESPN if he thought a full summer of rehabilitation could bring him back to the player he was before his foot injury, James nodded.

For what?

“Because I’m still better than 90% of the NBA,” he said. “Maybe 95.”


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