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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Perrelli: Lebron is justified in sitting out

LeBron James will miss the last six games of the regular season for the Los Angeles Lakers, according to a joint statement from team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. The Lakers are citing a groin injury that cost James 17 consecutive games during the season as the impetus for the decision, with the added justification that the Lakers will not compete in this year’s NBA postseason.

Not only does this appear to be a sound decision by the Lakers’ base and for James but it may reveal more about James’ intentions to wear the purple and gold. The Lakers sit 10th in the Western Conference standings with a 35-42 record. A lack of a supporting cast around James has been a significant storyline throughout the year, with trade rumors for Pelicans forward Anthony Davis swirling for weeks leading up to the trade deadline in exchange for numerous players currently remaining on the Lakers roster.

Simply put, James wants to win. But he wants to win big. 2019 will mark the end of a 13-year playoff appearance streak for James, where he also competed in eight-consecutive Finals.

There is no desire from him or his camp to have the four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion play six more regular-season games for the sake of solely entertaining fans. James is 34 years old; the clock is ticking.

Being on the wrong side of 30 suggests James’ prime years of basketball are behind him rather than ahead. Despite averaging 27 points per game, eight rebounds and eight assists in 2019, the level of production audiences have seen may not be guaranteed from James in the coming years.

Fans may be disappointed, particularly those who have paid their hard-earned money to watch James play this upcoming Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. When James made the move to Los Angeles to join the Lakers on a four-year pact, the decision was bigger than basketball.

From appearances on HBO’s The Shop, where James serves as a co-producer, to his involvement with the digital media company Uninterrupted to also serving as an A&R on 2 Chainz’s latest album, James has begun preparation for life after basketball. Being in Los Angeles as a part of the Lakers gives him more time to develop other aspects of his professional life, something he was not afforded the chance to do as often when he was a Cleveland Cavalier. It is much easier to drive to a Los Angeles music studio than to fly from Ohio.

The professional career of James appears categorical. His early years in the league were comprised of playoff appearances and grand statistical accomplishments. Joining the Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh reflected James’ desire to focus and become all in on winning championships. These days James’ actions suggest his desire to become a mogul of sorts.

Such a suggestion should not reflect poorly on the character of LeBron James. It should serve to reveal the bigger picture of his future with the Lakers and to justify why shutting it down for 2019 at the expense of six regular-season games makes sense for the athlete and his camp.