Former Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James is deciding whether it’s time to retire.
Could the 2023-2024 NBA season start off without former Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James? Could the NBA kick off a season without James for the first time since 2003? While it seems like such an unfathomable reality, it was bound to happen and maybe happen sooner than you think. After getting pulverized by the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, James took to the podium and gave a very candid response about his future.
When asked about his future, James was very candid, saying;
"I got a lot to think about. Just me personally going forward with the game of basketball, a lot for me to think about."
There isn’t much in the way of ambiguity as to what James said. He’s very clear that after 19 years, it may be time for him to hang it up. And it may be time to do so.
LeBron James’ stats are suggesting it’s time for the former Cleveland Cavalier to hang it up
While he can still deliver a solid performance night after night, his lack of a three-point shot and his mounting injuries are clearly painting a story of someone who knows he can’t win games anymore on his back alone.
James is just a 34% three-point shooter for his career and this postseason shot just 26% from three. James’ skillset requires him to attack the paint a lot. He’s not physically able to do that and not suffer some serious injury anymore. In his 20s he was able to hit a guy like Shaquille O’Neal full speed and not miss a game.
Now he’s so injury-riddled, he hasn’t played 70 games since 2018 (when he was 33) and has played 60 games just once since.
It’s clear the game is taking a toll on him physically, and if he were a Reggie Miller or Steph Curry type, someone who thrived on the perimeter and was less physical, you’d be shocked to hear a man who averaged 28 points only mostly good efficiency was about to retire.
But it’s clear that James knows he’s not that guy anymore. He’s not as good as he once was, but for one night he can still be as good as he ever was. Unfortunately for him, NBA playoff series are a best of four. I think that he may feel if he can’t be the best version of himself for four straight best-of-four series, then what’s the point?
Granted, his son is only one year away from joining the NBA, and he wants to play at least one year with his son Bronny. So could James realistically hang on and play two more years? Sure. He could also realize his body can’t handle it anymore and opt to retire.
Plans change. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him walk away after how badly the Lakers struggled and how little impact he actually made on the series.
Then again, he could retire for a year and come back to play with Bronny. Everything is on the table at this point.