After signing multiple one-year contracts that include a player option, LeBron James not only left the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency for a second time, he did so to sign a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James’ contract does include an opt-out clause after the 2020-21 season, but he nevertheless made a long-term commitment to the franchise. Upon his arrival, James asserted there wasn’t any additional pressure he would feel leading the Lakers than he’d endured throughout his career.
As the Lakers are looking to overcome a rash of injuries, which included James himself missing 17 consecutive games and 18 of 19, the 16-year veteran claimed to not be seeking any personal accomplishments.
“There’s nothing I need to get in this league that I don’t already have,” James said before the Lakers faced the Boston Celtics. “Everything else for me is just like icing on the cake.
“Even though I love the process of everything that I go through to be able to compete every single night and put teams in position to compete for championships. But there’s nothing that I’m chasing or that I feel I need to end my career on.”
James’ remarks were interpreted by some as James resting on his laurels with 15 All-Star Game selections, four MVP Awards, three championships and three Finals MVPs. It’s a notion he was sure to push back on after recording a fourth triple-double this season.
“First of all, I want to win every single day,” James said. “Every single night I prepare to be the best. It’s not like I wake up every single day and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, if I don’t win a championship, if I don’t make it to the All-Star Game, then my career isn’t what I want it to be.’
“For me, every moment, I don’t take for granted every time I get an opportunity to play the game. I play it at the highest of my ability. I’m not in the fashion of, ‘If I can’t do this individually, or if I can’t do this…, then my career is a failure.'”
As James looks to continue adding to his legacy, he’s already climbed up to fifth on the NBA all-time scoring list, and is poised to surpass Michael Jordan at some point this season.
While James missed an extended period for the first time in his career, he said following the Lakers’ win he is continuing to improve and getting back to his prior level.
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