It’s good to be The King even if times are tough in the kindgom.
Take LeBron James – now trying to hold his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers together – which is precisely what the Lakers aim to do.
By now, even small children in Lakerdom know what is surely Lakers boss Magic Johnson’s plan:
1) Develop the young players.
2) Create cap space for two maximum contracts … which probably means renouncing free agents Julius Randle, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and trading Jordan Clarkson.
3) Sign free agent Paul George from Oklahoma City.
4) Sign LeBron from Cleveland.
5) Live happily ever after.
Long shot that it is – none of the promising young Lakers will be confused with Karl-Anthony Towns or Joel Embiid – the Lakers are serious with Magic vowing they’ll be “major players” in free agency and George getting himself traded after turning down an extension in Indiana, saying he wanted to sign with the Lakers in 2018.
Even lowly teams run on hope, however desperate. Wednesday’s 76ers-Lakers game was hyped as the battle of the stars of the NBA of Tomorrow. LeBron is trying to remain the NBA of Today.
If Lakers fans missed it in their years of agony, James was aging along with them. He was 25 when the Lakers won their last title. He’s now 32, turning 33 on Dec. 30.
The Cavs’ starters, averaging 30.3 on opening night, were the oldest group in the NBA. Unlike other road teams that fly out after games, they stay over with LeBron preferring to unwind and get a good night’s sleep rather than check into the next hotel at 4 a.m.. As he remarked to ESPN, “We’re old, man.”
If LeBron’s still going strong, so was Kobe Bryant at 33 before blowing out an Achilles tendon at 34, bringing down the curtain on his era.
Whatever the LeBron-Lakers story is, local fans are going to be living in it all season so it would be nice to know where it came from.
It’s not hype because the Lakers, at least, believe in it. Nor is it the way to bet.
Like all media speculation stories, it’s as much about the media. “(Blank) to the Lakers” is a media twitch. Two seasons ago, Kevin Durant’s final season in Oklahoma City, he was coming to the Lakers in a Colin Cowherd scoop.
James’ sober comments at last spring’s NBA Finals after his Brentwood home was vandalized served to alert everyone that he had purchased the $21 million home a year before.
This was followed by a September blockbuster: James working out at Notre Dame High in Sherman…