NBA – What is the end of the career of LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) in the NBA?

Invited last weekend to the Rising Stars Challenge, Bilal Coulibaly was able to meet LeBron James up close in Indianapolis. The king played the twentieth All-Star game of his career there. This is obviously a record, another one, that illustrates the exceptional longevity of the first pick of the draft in 2003. He was already finishing his first season in the NBA when the young French rookie had barely come into the world. In fact, Coulibaly could almost be his son. The oldest of the James siblings, Bronny, is just two months away from the Washington Wizards player. For his part, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar has already faced the offspring of one of his former opponents eleven times. In short, the years go by, LeBron stays.

But how much longer? After briefly hesitating — without anyone really believing it — about potentially retiring at the end of the last playoffs, the 39-year-old monument spoke on the subject again this week. “I haven't decided yet how many years I have left, but it won't be that many. I don't know if I'll go on a farewell tour or play Tim Duncan style after the last match. It's 50-50 for now.

Two things to remember from this statement. The first concerns how he plans to leave. Or quietly, without warning, like the legend of the San Antonio Spurs. Either with great fanfare, by greeting him in each of the rooms where he will spend the last season.

This is what Kobe Bryant did for example. In this matter, absolutely no tension: it seems completely obvious that LeBron James, the man who tattooed “The Chosen One” on his chest, the athlete who knew how to control the entire narrative surrounding his career, will offer an absolutely legendary and busy last year in tribute . With possibly even a behind-the-scenes documentary about this final dance, probably produced by their own communications company.

How many more seasons at the top?

Another question, then, is knowing when. In two years? three? More than that ? It all ultimately depends on the final result that LBJ chooses. Does he want to go as far as possible in longevity or does he want to stop while he is still close to the peak? Even today, he is one of the fifteen best players in the world and still collects almost 25 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists every night. No one at his age had done that.

The argument for his durability over time is already in his favor in a hypothetical debate about the greatest player of all time. It would take him another six seasons to break the almost untouchable record of the oldest basketball player to step onto the NBA floor (Nat Hickey, 45 years and 363 days in… 1948). It seems inconceivable. All the more so because, despite the incredible statistics, the decline is already being felt. And it makes sense! He misses more and more games. His last season with more than 70 games was in 2018. His last season with more than 65 games was in 2020.

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LeBron James and Jayson Tatum in Lakers-Celtics

Credit: Getty Images

Often perceived as indomitable, he is increasingly injured, which goes hand in hand with missed matches. Playing too long means taking the risk of lowering your career average – 27, 7 and 7! – and leave a picture of a worn out James. It's an anecdote, but it's rarely good for the legacy of the greatest. He knows it and thinks about it. He has repeatedly admitted that he would like to be considered the GOAT (The greatest of all time). In the end, he is already the leading scorer in NBA history in both the regular season and the playoffs and will be the only one to finish his career with more than 40,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists.

He probably won't match Michael Jordan's ring count (4 to 6), but it's been a while since LeBron and his communications team changed the angle of the debate. Continuing on, even if your body remains strong, probably won't do much good. Three more seasons seems reasonable. Besides, it's hard to believe.

One last adventure with Bronny?

What could change the situation is the possible arrival of his son Bronny in the NBA. Or even that of Bryce, his other boy, currently in his senior year of high school. But after heart surgery last summer, the taller of the two doesn't really present itself as a potential future player in the league anymore. He's never been considered one of the stars of his generation, but with his current performance (5 points per game at USC), it's hard to imagine him being a first-round pick in 2024.

Playing two or three more seasons, the Akron native may be able to realize one of his last dreams: playing with one of his sons. The question is where his career will end. His words were often misinterpreted when he spoke of playing “with” his children.

He's even been forced to correct himself since then, insisting that he didn't necessarily intend to join a team that could recover Bronny, for example. And at this point, it would be very surprising if a GM would risk “sacrificing” a draft round by taking a player just in hopes of bringing in his father. It's almost unhealthy. There are still rumors that two franchises (New York and Cleveland?) think they can sign LeBron – whose contract potentially expires this summer – by taking his son.

The surest end of his career is in Los Angeles, and that is in line with everything he announced recently. The Golden State Warriors, who tried to bring him back at the deadline, will undoubtedly return to offense. Dallas Mavericks too. Perhaps he will be tempted by one last adventure. But what is certain is that the end of the King's career is nearing.

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LeBron James and his son Bronny

Credit: Getty Images

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