A new era officially begins Thursday night for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. After five years of rebuilding through the NBA Draft, the Lakers changed the landscape when they signed James to a four-year, $154 million contract.
For James, he has completely transformed how superstars approach free agency and the Lakers will mark his third team in his 16-year career.
As the Lakers play the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2018-19 NBA season opener, here is how James has performed in his debuts:
Oct. 29, 2003 (Cleveland Cavaliers @ Sacramento Kings): 25 points (12/20 from the field), six rebounds, nine assists, four steals, and zero blocks in 42 minutes.
Oct. 26, 2010 (Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics): 31 points (10/21 from the field), four rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks in 43 minutes.
Oct. 30, 2014 (Cleveland Cavaliers @ New York Knicks): 17 points (5/15 from the field), five rebounds, four assists, zero steals, and zero blocks in 43 minutes.
In all three debuts, James’ teams have lost but it is not surprising considering they all get off to slow starts. However, the Heat and Cavaliers (second stint) made eight consecutive NBA Finals combined with him.
As for the Lakers, there is a wide range of projections considering the talent in the Western Conference. From being the second-best team to not even making the playoffs, this may very well be James’ greatest challenge as the Golden State Warriors are looking to cement themselves as the greatest dynasty.
With the Lakers in pursuit of their 17th championship and first since the 2009-10 season, James has an opportunity to add to his legacy. If he is able to win his fourth in Los Angeles, he will join John Salley and Robert Horry as players who won with three different teams.
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