For the first time in franchise history, the Denver Nuggets are going to the NBA finals. After going up 3-0 on the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers and a fading LeBron James, the Nuggets sealed the deal with a thrilling 113-111 victory.
Thanks to a 36-16 third quarter, the Nuggets climbed back from a 15-point deficit at halftime to win the conference and cement their place in the 2023 NBA Finals.
Rarely in past years when James was at the peak of his dominance could a team rally from 15 down to steal a victory, but this isn’t 2007 LeBron James. This isn’t even 2021 James.
With the season on the line and the Lakers needing a bucket, as they so often do they called on James to deliver, but this time the young Nugget upstarts were there to thwart him and send him into the offseason wondering if this was his swan song.
After the game, a glum James met with the media to discuss his future. Via TMZ Sports, he said: “We’ll see what happens going forward,” James said to a throng of media members following the 113-111 defeat. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I got a lot to think about, to be honest. I got a lot to think about, to be honest.”
James is 38, and his skills are undeniably eroding in real-time, but he is still likely the best player on a Laker team whose window is slamming shut. No one considered his retirement a possibility before the season, but now, considering how meekly the Lakers bowed out of the playoffs, all scenarios are on the table.
LeBron James is considering retirement, per B/R's @ChrisBHaynes
James is unsure if he’ll be with Lakers to start next season pic.twitter.com/pg1fn1wlqo
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 23, 2023
Compounding the problems the Lakers are facing is a salary cap that doesn’t leave much free cash for adding any pieces to help push the team back over the hump. The team is unlikely to add any impact players in the draft, and D-League help is scarce as well.
LeBron went on to say: “Just for me personally,” he said, “going forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about.”
James could well be thinking about his son Bronny, and his upcoming freshman year at USC. Would James be tempted to step aside to focus more time on Bronny? A better question is; would Bronny benefit from the specter of his father on the USC sideline every game?
In an elimination series where LeBron was usually the third-best player on the court behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, we may have seen the last of LeBron James. Of course, the season is still five months away, and after a cooling-off period and some time off, James might feel rejuvenated.
However, there is only so much rejuvenation a man his age can do, and considering the talent on the team is probably topped out, he may decide to ride off into the sunset before his legacy gets any more tarnished.
Between the flopping, the kowtowing to China, and the misguided social justice posturing, LeBron James has done enough damage to his reputation since 2020 to last a career. Perhaps he should quit before his skills are completely gone too.
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