If there was any doubt that LeBron James was going to leave the Los Angeles Lakers when he becomes a free agent in 2023, he just quelled those fears. During an appearance on the "Smartless" podcast where James was promoting his new movie, "Space Jam: A New Legacy," the 35-year-old, four-time NBA champion shared his love for the city of L.A. as well as the Lakers organization.
"I truly hope that I can finish my career with the Lakers," James said. "However many years that is, if it's four, five, six, whatever, seven. I hope I can continue to play the game. I love being in L.A., my family loves being in L.A. Being with a historical franchise like the Lakers is something ... It's like me being in "Space Jam" -- I never thought it would be possible. You think about Kareem, and Magic, and Wilt, and Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, Kobe, Shaq and all of them. The whole list goes on."
While a lot can happen in two years -- remember LeBron was proclaiming not three, not four, not five championships during his introductory appearance after signing with the Miami Heat in 2010 -- it would be surprising to see the superstar play on another team this late into his career. He's already brought the Lakers a championship after hoisting his fourth Larry O'Brien Trophy inside the Orlando bubble last year, and if it weren't for a truncated season filled with injuries to both James and Anthony Davis, there's a good chance they could've repeated as champions again.
Looking forward, the Lakers have everything LeBron would want in a franchise to play out his remaining years. His co-star in Davis is still just 28 years old, and the Lakers could always add a third star to stack the deck in their favor. Outside of basketball, Los Angeles is the ideal city for all of the off-court interests James has, including producing and starring in films and television shows. His son, LeBron James Jr., is a sophomore at the prestigious Sierra Canyon High School where he headlines a talented basketball team that draws people like Drake and Michael B. Jordan sitting courtside to watch them play.
As James said, he and his family love L.A., and as he gets older in his career -- he'll be 38 when he becomes a free agent in 2023 -- the quality of life aspect plays a big role in where aging stars want to play. While it remains to be seen just how many more years LeBron has left in him, it sounds like all of them will be played in purple and gold.