You’ve most likely heard the statistic by now: With the Lakers earning a spot in this year’s NBA Finals, LeBron James will have appeared in nine of the past 10 series to determine the winner of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
It’s an incredible run. But it also bears the question of what, exactly, James was doing last year when the Lakers failed to make the playoffs and the Raptors and Warriors were battling for the NBA title. The answer may surprise you: He was smoking it up at a hookah lounge.
OK, he was not actually doing the smoking himself, and he did not watch every game at the lounge—he watched some of the series at home and some while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico—but he was hanging with some hookah for at least part of the series.
“There were a couple games where I was at home,” James said on Saturday night. “There were a couple games where I was at home, there were a couple games where I was in Cabo and there were a couple games where I was at a hookah lounge. That’s the truth. I wasn’t smoking hookah but I was there.”
LeBron James: ‘I Watched Every Single Minute’ of Playoffs
When a star player misses not only the NBA Finals but the playoffs entirely, he will generally either stick his head under the pillow and not watch any of the proceedings, or go to the other extreme, and watch all the series closely. James, who had not missed the postseason since 2005, his second season in the league, did not reach the playoffs last year after he was injured and the Lakers slumped.
Toronto has home court bro! Game 4 in Cali. You go to Toronto for game 4 you’d be watching it in Jurassic Park
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 27, 2019
He took the watch-every-game route during his absence. He was asked if the games were on at the hookah lounge and he was emphatic in his answer:
Absolutely, the game was on or I wouldn’t have went. The game was on in Cabo, the game was on in my house, the game was on in the hookah lounge. I watched every single minute until it stopped I actually watched every single postseason game last year.
Part of me, I am just a fan of the game, I love the sport, I love the competitive nature, I love the playoffs. And then also, saying, oh, I wish I was in this moment. What I would have did at this moment, what play would I woulda made in that moment if I was out there? I did not miss a game. I did not miss one game, even on vacation, I did not miss one game. My wife did not like it, but she’ll be OK.
LeBron James Could Win Title for Third Different Franchise
When the series against the Miami Heat gets underway on Wednesday, James will be making an appearance for his third team in the Finals—he had done so with Cleveland and during his stint with the Heat. He has also become just the fourth player in league history to earn a spot in the Finals 10 times, behind Bill Russell of the Celtics (12 appearances), Sam Jones, also of Boston (11), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10).
LeBron James clinched his 10th #NBAFinals appearance tonight, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10), Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) as the only players in NBA history to appear in at least 10 NBA Finals! pic.twitter.com/uKz92qgu0u
— NBA (@NBA) September 27, 2020
James will attempt to become only the third player to win a championship with three different franchises. John Salley (Lakers, Pistons, Bulls) and Robert Horry (Rockets, Spurs, Lakers) are the other two.
He has the chance to be the first player to win Finals MVP for three different teams, having done so in Cleveland (2016) and Miami (2012 and 13). There is a good chance he will do so, if the Lakers win the series. James has averaged 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in the playoffs thus far, shooting 54.7% from the field.