LeBron James’s move to the Lakers isn’t just about basketball. Even if he’s already a global superstar, the spotlight in Los Angeles will be far greater than it was in Cleveland or Miami. And it’s not strictly about business either. The King may be up to something bigger. The politics.

Over the years, James has grown not only as a player but also as a role model. He’s proven to understand the power he has as a globally recognized superstar by speaking out on social and political matters. As he enters the biggest stage of his career, we can expect his presence to be felt outside of the NBA arenas as well.

The King of LA

Without a question, James was the biggest name on the NBA’s free agent market this year, just like it was back in 2010 and again in 2014. What differentiates Bron’s contract with the Los Angeles Lakers from the ones he had been signing in the previous years, is its length.

This four-year deal that includes a player option after the third season is the longest he’s signed since 2010, when he inked a six-year sign-and-trade contract with the Cavs that officially put him in Miami. That six-year deal also included an opt-out, which James exercised after four seasons to go back to Cleveland.

Since then, James was terminating all of his contracts after a year or two, so he could enter the free agency and sign again for more money, thanks to the increasing salary cap, as well as maintain flexibility. Such short-term deals are preferred by players who want to bet on themselves, and in LeBron’s case, the gamble was minimal.

Now, however, James has decided to settle. What does it mean for the Lakers and the man himself?

By all means, Magic Johnson (Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations) and Rob Pelinka (Lakers’ General Manager) are relieved to have LeBron locked for three years. It gives the Lakers a clear direction to go with. Something the team has been missing since Kobe Bryant’s performance had significantly waned.

Under James’s leadership, this young but talented team that still has cap space to add more superstars to its roster in the coming years, gets right back into the contention.

Of course, besides acquiring LeBron, the signings the Lakers made this offseason were quite underwhelming. In addition, the Warriors may be out of reach for a few more years, but there’s no denying that the Lakers are in the right spot to create the next Western Conference powerhouse.

James’s move to LA has a completely different vibe to it than the time he decided to bring his talents to South Beach. It is also different from his big homecoming four years after joining the Heat.

This time, no 75-minute ESPN special or Sports Illustrated cover were needed to announce the decision. Quite the opposite, actually.

James’s signing with the Lakers was made public via a short, straight-to-the-point statement published on Twitter by his agency, Klutch Sports. It very much resembled the famous Michael Jordan’s “I’m back” note he ran in 1995, except James’s camp used Twitter rather than a fax machine. Can’t blame them for that.

James didn’t make any promises to the Lakers’ fan base, like he had in Miami. He didn’t put a pressure on the organization to build a juggernaut right away. Instead, he let the front office develop the team in their own pace.

For LeBron, the relocation to LA was a dream come true. It’s the choice he felt most comfortable with, and it had little to do with chasing his fourth championship ring.

Winning the championship each season, however, for a player of LeBron’s caliber, is never off the table, and is always the ultimate goal.

“For me to be in this position now, the excitement that I have to be a Laker, I’m happy to be a part of it because I believe the Lakers is a historical franchise, we all know that, but it’s a championship franchise and that’s what we’re trying to get back to.”

But as The King’s quest to bring showtime back to La La Land begins, he has to face his first obstacles.

Current generations of Laker nation still worship the church of Kobe Bryant. He is their answer to the evergreen Who’s the greatest player of all time debate that for other fans is mostly just about James and Jordan.

They still remember Kobe’s on-court rivalry with Bron, and it doesn’t sit easy with a lot of them that the self-proclaimed King is about to run their town now.

It showed when first LeBron murals appeared on Melrose Avenue.


It didn’t take long before this mural got vandalized. It was eventually repainted, but the phrase “King of LA” couldn’t stay. Then, another one appeared, this time paying dues to the Lakers legends including Kobe, Magic, Shaq, Kareem, and Wilt.


Guess what. This didn’t sit well with some of the Lakers fans either.


It looks like LeBron has already embraced LA, but LA still hasn’t fully embraced him yet. You can expect that to change once James’s talent puts the Lakers back on the winning track, but James didn’t choose LA to simply win over some local fans.

LeBron’s Basketball Mortality

Soon-to-be 34, James is still yet to show any sign of slowing down. No player in the NBA’s history was filling the stat sheet in his 15th season as well as LeBron did. But even if exceptionally late, his basketball mortality has got to catch up on him eventually. Something James seems to realize, settling for a long-term deal.

This is not to say he’ll retire once his current contract comes to an end. He’s got a number of reasons to stick around.

For starters, there’s still plenty of basketball in him. He’s never had a serious injury and the enormous talent and versatility he has will allow James’s game to age well, no matter what direction the NBA play style goes in the future. Experienced leaders are always welcome on any NBA roster to mentor the new generations of players.

Let’s not forget LeBron is a great competitor. Above all, he wants to win and to be the best there ever was. He has a chance to retire as the all-time leader in points scored.

Before his 16th season as a pro, the native of Akron, Ohio, sits at the 7th position on the list of the NBA’s best scorers with 31,038 points in his account. This means he trails a Lakers legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s the NBA’s all-time leader, by 7,349 points.

Given the fact that LeBron has averaged 2069 points per season so far, he can find himself on top of the board in the final year of his current contract.

Of course, we can expect his production to decline at some point. He may get rested more often and his minutes may finally get decreased. After all, he has already spent more time on the courts of the NBA than Michael Jordan did.

If he can play five or six more seasons in the NBA, it should be a pretty safe thing to say, that LeBron will retire as the league’s all-time scoring leader.

When it comes to other statistics, he has a shot at making the top three in the all-time assists leaderboard. James is on pace to overtake Steve Nash at the third spot in six years.

And why would James play six more years? To make his ultimate NBA dream come true. To play with his oldest son, that is.

Born in October 2004, LeBron James Jr., is currently playing AAU basketball but has already been offered scholarships by the nation’s top basketball programs. “Bronny”, as his father calls him, shows plenty of talent and is on track to make the NBA in five years, if the NBA again allows players right after high school to be drafted (and the rumor has it it’s going to happen).

LeBron’s current contract is valid until the summer of 2022, which means he would have to stick around for two more years to share a court with his son. This would require Bron to play until he’s 40. Sounds doable for an ironman he is. Sounds probable, given how much playing with Bronny would mean to him, being “the greatest achievement of [LeBron’s] career”, according to his own words.

More than an Athlete

A four-year contract in Los Angeles and the lack of pressure to bring the championship to California in his first season there gives him the opportunity to put more focus on non-basketball related activities.

It’s unlikely that James moved to Hollywood to get into the entertainment industry. Of course, producing or acting in movies isn’t unrealistic, but there are other things he may take advantage of.

Playing in such a big market, for such a popular franchise as the Lakers is a great benefit for Nike, which LeBron has a lifetime contract with. The LeBron shoe line is surely getting a few new LA-flavored colorways and the jersey sales numbers will be going through the roof. Additionally, Nike is reported to expand the collection of James’s signature products.

That’s not all, though.

The media spotlight in Los Angeles will be greater than it was in Cleveland too, giving him more opportunities to speak out on social matters and politics. Something he’s been doing more and more as he’s grown from a high school standout to a mature, professional athlete, who understands how much his voice resonates with the society.

LeBron was one of the many athletes who greatly supported Barack Obama, but one of a few who developed a true friendship with the 44th president. James was eager to appear in Obama’s White House events and to bond with the presidential family, like when he posed for a selfie with Michelle Obama during the Cavs’ mannequin challenge.

“We just have a real genuine relationship. We’ve got so many things in common we can talk about, not only from sports but community service and growing up in the inner city and figuring out ways that we can help the youth,” said James of his connection with Obama.

It shows how much more than an athlete LeBron wants to be. He is very conscious of the power he has, being idolized by millions and having media around him at all times. James is doing whatever he can to turn the attention he gets into an impact on the society. That’s why he speaks so openly about politics, often criticizing Donald Trump’s presidency.

The relationship between James and Trump is completely opposite to the one the Lakers’ star had with Obama. Even right after the elections, James called “goofy votes” the cause of Trump’s victory.

A vast majority of the NBA players, coaches and managers have voiced their frustration with Trump, which even brought an end to the traditional White House visits of the champions. When Trump rescinded his invitation to the Golden State Warriors in 2017, LeBron had some words to the 45th president.

“Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” – James tweeted out.

LeBron is mostly critical of Trump’s leadership or lack thereof, saying he divides the country rather instead of bringing it together. James’s strong opposition to the President has made him enemies on the Republican side.

The strongly Republican TV network, Fox News, not too long ago aired an episode of The Ingraham Angle, an opinion-based news show, whose host, Laura Ingraham didn’t hold herself back calling James “barely intelligible”.

It was a response to a LeBron’s statement on Trump, in which he said the President “didn’t understand people.”

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. Keep the political comments to yourselves. Shut up and dribble,” exclaimed Ingraham.

This, of course, sparked a backlash from athletes, including James.


LeBron does more than just talk, however. He just opened the “I Promise” school for 240 at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron.

The school has an extended school year, focusing on bringing children up to speed and on minimizing the risks that await children on the streets. It provides children with free breakfast and lunch, free transportation, and a free bike for each kid. It also offers job placement services to their parents. Finally, it’s also tuition-free and guarantees a tuition to the University of Akron for every graduate.

Trump’s reaction?


LeBron’s engagement in social matters and obviously the spotlight he’s always in would give him a head start in the future political career he might want to venture.

The Future President of the United States?

We’ve already seen basketball players turn politicians. Dave Bing, Bill Bradley or Kevin Johnson all won local elections. We’ve seen athletes/celebrities become governors (think California). Would anybody be surprised if LeBron won the election to become a governor of Ohio?

This could happen sooner than you may think. Imagine if LeBron plays out the 2023-2024 season (together with his son) and then retires. He could run for the governor of his home state as soon as in 2026. But knowing how much impact he wants to have, running Ohio might not be enough for James.

Let’s go one step further, then.

Once he finishes his term as the governor, at the age of 48, LeBron James could candidate for the presidency in 2032. Does anybody doubt he’d be a popular choice?

James isn’t likely to finish his career as the most winning player in the NBA’s history, but turning to politics when he’s done playing might bring him the biggest honor of his life. And once again, we are here to witness.

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