Lakers’ LeBron James Gets Honest About Plans for Final NBA Season

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, the Los Angeles Lakers will not have LeBron James.

That won’t be next season. James has reaffirmed his commitment to the Lakers in the wake of speculation around his ambiguous comments and posts in recent weeks. But, when that day comes, will James want to go out with the pomp and fanfare of a “farewell tour”?

“I have not mapped out how many seasons I have left — I know it’s not that many,” James told reporters ahead of his 20th All-Star game on February 18. “I was asked this question a couple days ago: Will you kind of take the farewell tour or will you kind of just Tim Duncan it?

“I’m 50-50, I’m gonna be honest. There’s times where I feel like, I guess, I owe it to my fans that’s been along this journey with me for two decades plus to be able to give them that moment – whereas every city and whatever the case may be, and they give you your flowers whatever the case may be. That seems cool.”

“The other side of it is, I’ve never been that great with accepting praise. It’s a weird feeling for me. Never really talked about it much, but it’s just a weird feeling for me.

“To go in each city – if that’s the case – I don’t know. I’ve seen [Michael Jordan], I’ve seen Kobe [Bryant]’s, I’ve seen a lot of guys,” James said. “I just don’t know how I feel. I don’t know if I will feel great about it. Maybe the only child in me; maybe. But I don’t know.”

Bryant and Jordan got to bask in the glory of their respective storied careers one last time.

Duncan’s retirement became public only after it had happened and to very little fanfare. It was a fitting end for one of the game’s most understated players.

The ceremony for breaking the all-time scoring record was likely a bigger singular event than any lone game on James’ potential retirement tour would be. But the nightly spectacle could ultimately serve as more of a distraction than a benefit.

Additionally, James says the attention makes him uncomfortable.

LeBron James Wants to Retire With Lakers

While he doesn’t know when his career will come to an end, James certainly has some idea of where he would like to be.

“I am a Laker and I’m happy, and been very happy being a Laker the last six years,” James said “Hopefully, it stays that way. But I don’t have the answer to how long it is or which uniform I’ll be in. Hopefully, it is with the Lakers. It’s a great organization and so many greats. But we’ll see. I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it’s coming it’s coming for sure.”

James, 39, is averaging 24.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 7.2 rebounds this season. He ranks second on the Lakers and 23rd in the NBA in minutes per game.

His previous vagueness in discussing his upcoming player option helped fuel speculation.

LeBron James Doubles Down on Plans to Join Anthony Davis, Team USA for Paris Olympics

James also reaffirmed his readiness to commit to playing in the Paris Summer Olympics, assuming his body holds up that is.

“I told myself before the season when I committed to being a part of the Olympic team, obviously, it was all predicated on my health,” James said when asked where his confidence in his future availability was. “As it stands right now, I am healthy enough to be on the team and perform at a level that I know I could perform at.

“If I’m committed – which I am – to Team USA, then I’m going commit my mind, body, and soul to being out there for Team USA, being out there representing our country with the utmost respect, and go out and play.”

James’ comments come one day after Anthony Davis said he would participate if asked.

Team USA’s schedule begins with Canada in the first game of the USA Basketball Showcase on July 10.