After reaching the NBA Finals for eight consecutive seasons and ruling the Eastern Conference, LeBron James decided it was time to finally test himself in the west.
The four-time MVP signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer and has taken a huge gamble by joining a stacked conference.
The Golden State Warriors are clearly the best team but there’s also real quality throughout the west and LeBron will face tougher challenges.
Out of his comfort zone
L.A. will expect to end their five-year playoff drought but the presence of the league’s best player won’t make that a foregone conclusion.
Just securing a top-eight finish will be tough for the purple and gold, which makes it surprising that James has chosen to accept this challenge at the age of 33.
He could’ve stayed in his comfort zone knowing that he was more than capable of reaching the finals by winning the east.
But he believed the time had come for something new in his 16th year in the league and his decision has been met with admiration by Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
“I have a great admiration for a guy who dominated the Eastern Conference as he has and then goes out to take up the challenge of playing in the Western Conference,” Erving said to ESPN 97.3, via 247Sports. “That’s chutzpah.”
Erving, a Philadelphia 76ers legend, was hoping to see the King sign with the team he spent 11 successful years with but he didn’t look to recruit him as he believed Magic Johnson always had him tied up.
“I think Magic had him locked up,” Erving said. “All that ‘we’re Midwest boys so we can get along, we understand each other.’
“I think he sold him on that, and the challenge for LeBron [to play in the West].”
Dr. J may be right as Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins revealed that James was always excited by the possibility of working with Magic because of how he could relate to him.
The three-time champion recently described joining the Lakers and partnering with Johnson as a “dream come true”.
“This is kind of like a dream come true for me,” James said last month, via USA Today.
“…Being able to partner with Magic Johnson, someone I kind of like looked up to when I was younger, you know, and wanted to make no-look passes like Magic, wanted to get on the break and be ‘Showtime’ like Magic, and then for it to all come to fruition at this point, I think timing is everything.”
With training camp set to get underway in a few weeks’ time, fans in Los Angeles won’t have to wait too much longer to see their new superstar in action.
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