LA Lakers star LeBron James says no intention of retiring yet
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James acknowledged on Wednesday that a few months ago, he was questioning himself on his ability to keep performing “without cheating the game” and to still “give everything to the game.”
While accepting an award at the ESPYs in Los Angeles, the National Basketball Association (NBA) star announced his decision to play for a 21st season.
“I don’t care how many more points I score, or what I can or cannot do on the floor,” said James after receiving the award for Best Record-Breaking Performance for passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
“The real question for me is: Can I play without cheating this game? The day I can’t give everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.
“In my 20 years playing this game and all the years before, I’ve never, ever cheated the game and I will never take it for granted.”
James, who will be 39 in December, dismissed suggestions that he wanted to continue playing in the NBA with one or both of his son’s – his eldest son Bronny James, who will play college basketball next season at the University of Southern California, and could conceivably enter the NBA in time for the 2024-2025 campaign.
But he said that coaching his sons has helped to maintain his enthusiasm.
“You know what brings me back every year? It’s watching and coaching my boys and their teammates,” said the forward, who has scored 38,652 points to top the all-time list.
“I see those kids and it brings me right back to why I play. Those kids get me back to where I need to be, just the pure love of this beautiful game. So, yeah, I still got something left. A lot left.”
James explained his consideration from walking away from the sport after the Western Conference final loss to eventual NBA champions Denver Nuggets, saying he had often had such questions for himself.
“When the season ended, I said I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing and I know a lot of experts told you guys what I said but I’m here now speaking for myself,” said the four-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player.
“In that moment, I’m asking myself if I can still play without cheating the game – can I give everything to the game still? The truth is, I’ve been asking myself this question at the end of the season for a couple years now. I just never openly talked about it,” he said.
James – who averaged 28.9 points last season, slightly up from his career average of 27.2 per game – signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers last August that would keep him at the club through the 2024-2025 season.
James’ 21st season will be the longest active run in the NBA, and tie him with Robert Parish, Kevin Willis, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. They trail only the 22-year career of Vince Carter. - AFP, REUTERS