The basketball world was rocked when it was announced that LeBron James had agreed to a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It had long been rumored that he would ultimately land in L.A., but until the announcement was made, there was plenty of trepidation.
Over the course of his career, James has garnered a reputation as one of the most intelligent and calculated players in the league. He wouldn’t make decisions without being well-informed and he certainly went through all the stops before arriving at his decision to sign with the Lakers.
It is now known that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson met with James at the start of free agency, which ultimately proved pivotal for the storied franchise.
But according to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, James had a phone conversation with Kobe Bryant beforehand:
He met with [Rich] Paul extensively Saturday and planned communication with the Cavs, Sixers and Lakers. But he was clearly focused on the new home team. He talked with Kobe Bryant over the phone and invited Magic Johnson to his house in Brentwood. Late Saturday night, Johnson walked through the door.
The connection between Magic and LeBron undoubtedly played a major role in this decision. The fact that Johnson was secretly meeting with James face-to-face at the start of free agency is proof of why Jeanie Buss brought him in to run the organization.
It also further signals how closely the Lakers handled matters. Having twice been fined for tampering, Buss and Johnson called a meeting with several employees to warn against additional punishment.
With a four-year contract, James is in it for the long haul. He has an opportunity to place his name next to the rest of the Lakers greats and he made sure to connect with a couple of them before joining the illustrious franchise.
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