There is still time on the clock for LeBron James’ career.
The Lakers star announced Wednesday night at the ESPYS in Los Angeles that he will continue to play.
James openly considered retirement after the Denver Nuggets’ playoff sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference finals, but he will become the sixth player in NBA history to play in his 21st or older season, joining Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish, Kevin Willis and Vince Carter, who holds the record with 22.
“I don’t care how many more points I score or what I can or can’t do on the court,” James said after accepting the ESPY award for best record performance for passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leader in the nba. goal scorer. “The real question for me is: Can I play without cheating in this game? The day I can’t give it my all on the court is the day I’m done. Lucky for you, that day isn’t today.”
James received the award from his wife, Savannah, who was joined by their three children: 18-year-old Bronny, 16-year-old Bryce and 8-year-old Zhuri.
“Please welcome to the stage, the GOAT, respectfully, LeBron James,” Savannah said.
James, 38, used the occasion to reflect on how his children have fueled his continuing passion for basketball.
Bronny will be a freshman on the USC men’s basketball team in the fall. Bryce transferred to Campbell Hall High School, where he will play his junior season. James recently coached Bryce’s AAU team, Strive For Greatness, at the Peach Jam tournament in South Carolina.
“Tonight, I want to use this moment to say something that I’ve said a million times and I’ll never get tired of talking about it: I love this game. I love the game of basketball,” James said. “There’s a video going around the internet right now of me coaching Bryce’s team last weekend, and it’s actually quite funny. I saw a lot of posts with people saying, ‘LeBron brings the energy to an AAU game at high school the same way.’ I would do to a Finals game.’ And to me, that’s the ultimate compliment.
“In my 20 years of playing this game and all the years before, I have never, ever cheated at the game, and I will never take it for granted.”
With former teammates Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in attendance Wednesday night, James detailed his dedication to the sport that has brought him into the national spotlight for more than two decades.
“Every time I step foot on the court, whether it’s coaching my guys or playing, I want to give it my all. I do it for myself,” James said. “I’m doing it for some of my teammates I’ve had before and now. And I’m doing it for all the greats that came before me. And more importantly, or more importantly, I’m doing it for the fans, the lovers.” of the game.
“Listen, you may love me, and I know some of you hate me, too, but the one thing you’ll always do is respect me and appreciate the way I approach the game and what I’ve given to this game.”
James explained his mindset when, after scoring 40 points and playing all 48 minutes in the Lakers’ Game 4 loss to the Nuggets, he told ESPN he had to think “do I want to keep playing.”
“When the season ended, I said I wasn’t sure if I was going to play anymore,” James said. “And I know many experts told you what I said, but now I’m here speaking for myself. At that point, I wonder if I can still play without cheating in the game, can I still give my all for the game? The truth is that I’ve been asking myself this question at the end of the season for a couple of years. I just never talked openly about it.”
James also continued to distance himself from his earlier desire to play on the same NBA team as one or both of his sons, saying, “They’re on their own basketball journey and no matter how far they decide to go, they’re not cheating on it.” the game. And that inspires me.”
In short, The King will return.
“You know what brings me back every year? It’s watching and coaching my guys and their teammates,” he said. “I look at those kids and it reminds me why I play. Those kids get me back to where I need to be, just pure love for their beautiful game.”
“So yeah, I still have some left. I have a lot left. Love you all and thank you so much for watching this ride so far.”