In the most surprising news of the day, it turns out that Los Angeles Lakers star and the NBA‘s all-time leading scorer LeBron James still enjoys playing basketball and will not retire this offseason. James was at the ESPYs on Wednesday to be honored for “Best Record Breaking Performance” and addressed the crowd with a short speech.
“I don’t care how many more points I score, or what I can or cannot do on the floor,” James said. “The real question for me is, ‘Can I play without cheating this game?’ The day I can’t give the game everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.”
In truth, no one actually thought that James would retire this summer, and it was only a topic of conversation for a brief period because he brought it up himself. Following the Lakers’ season-ending loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, .
“I got a lot to think about,” James said. “Just personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about.”
When Dave McMenamin of ESPN followed up with him to clarify, James confirmed he was talking about retirement.
McMenamin: “When you say you got to think about stuff, what thread should we be pulling on that?”
James: “If I want to continue to play.”
McMenamin: “As in next year?”
McMenamin: “You would walk away?”
James: “I got to think about it.”
James is 38 years old, just completed his 20th season in the league and played through a serious foot injury in the playoffs. But even at this stage of his career he’s still one of the best players in the league and able to compete at the highest level — even if he now coasts more frequently in the regular season. Plus,, who will be a freshman at USC and draft-eligible in 2024.
While he may have succeeded in getting everyone to talk about his future instead of the Lakers being swept by the Nuggets, he didn’t convince anyone that he would actually walk away from the game. Now, we know for sure that he will be back.