There was no long, drawn-out “where-will-he sign” process.
There was no elaborate made-for-TV announcement that had the sports nation on the edge of its seats.
There was no “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”
No, LeBron James — the greatest player of this generation and for some the greatest of all time — struck with the quickness of a cheetah and while most of us were still digesting breakfast.
The King announced on Sunday that he would be heading west to the tradition-rich Los Angeles Lakers, tipping the NBA scales of balance even more toward the Left Coast. It also means when the NBA Finals roll around next June, they’ll be a forgone conclusion as the true Finals, as they were this year, will be the Western Conference finals.
LeBron agreed to a 4-year deal, which means he will most likely finish his career with the Lakers. He will be 37 at the end of this deal and would only re-sign if he’s chasing individual or personal records.
This was no big surprise. It was going to either be Cleveland or Los Angeles, cities he maintains a residence in. The other teams were no more than bit players. Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers had their hearts beating briefly, but he gave them only a cursory glance.
By joining the Lakers, who have been awful the last 5 years, they immediately become contenders. They’re still a long way from being in the Golden State and Houston class, but they could be the third-best in the West. After all, LeBron took a band of underachievers to the NBA Finals this year and his presence should assure LA of at least 20 more wins.
And given the allure of LeBron — not to mention magnetic icon Magic Johnson who is in charge of the Lakers’ operations — don’t be surprised if they aren’t done retooling their roster. Already, they have added role players Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee to bolster the bench and don’t forget the biggest fish left in the pond —Kawhi Leonard — is still out there he attempts to escape what he believes to be purgatory in San Antonio.
LeBron to the Lakers makes so much sense. Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain eventually headed to La La Land to have a better chance to win championships. And right now, that’s all LeBron is truly interested in, as he has more money than he could ever spend or give away. LA is glitz, glamour and the land of endless opportunities. He will put the "Show" back in "Showtime."
LeBron also is interested in the business aspect, following the lead of Magic. The late Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss helped Magic become a powerhouse in the business world and LeBron could have similar aspirations.
My big question is what do the Lakers do with Lonzo Ball, who thrives on having the ball in his hands. His father, LeVar “Big Baller” Ball, certainly won’t be silent for long as Lonzo is used to dominating the ball, just like LeBron. Hopefully he won't say his son is as good as LeBron or some other knucklehead statement that he's been prone to make.
Lonzo is no LeBron, despite what LeVar believes. And as much as LeVar wants his son to be playing in the bright lights of LA, his best career move might be going elsewhere.
As much as Golden State has been the NBA’s dominant team, winning three of the last four years, all the hype going into next season will have to do with the Lakers. Make that LeBron's Lakers.