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From the Basement: LABron James’ Decision 3.0

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Last summer, following the brutal four-game decimation that was the 2018 NBA Finals, professional basketball fans waited in eager anticipation for early July, when superstar forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would select his free agency destination.

Finally, on the afternoon of July 1, “LABron” was born. Though multiple sources had previously hinted that the 14-time-All-Star was leaning towards moving to the City of Angels, the news still came as a shock to much of the basketball community. Many fans did not expect James to abandon the feeble Eastern Conference that he had dominated for eight straight years, and if Los Angeles’ inexperienced core already seemed like a less than ideal fit for the aging forward, then the larger-than-life LaVar Ball would most certainly convince him to stay away.  

So when James officially signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers a week later, many reporters viewed the decision as personally motivated and family-oriented, rather than solely driven by basketball. After all, James has business interests in the region and his oldest son, Bronny, is starting high school this fall.

Regardless of his reasoning, few fans blame James for leaving Cleveland and its dysfunctional franchise. Even Cavs supporters seem to have handled his departure with more poise than they did the first time, now by expressing their gratitude for his tenure, rather than burning his jersey.

In fact, the group most deeply offended by the King’s move to LA ironically appears to be Lakers fans themselves, many of whom refuse to acknowledge their beloved Kobe Bryant’s greatest rival (a mural in the city depicting James in a Lakers Jersey was quickly defaced after a Twitter user offered $300 for its destruction).

But regardless of the hot takes on James’ choice, it is time to look forward. What does his move to Los Angeles mean for the NBA?

1.  An incredibly entertaining new Lakers squad

Almost immediately after signing James, the Lakers picked up two players who are often the laughing stock of the NBA: JaVale McGee, whose plays have been featured more often on Shaqtin a Fool than on highlight reels, and Lance Stephenson, who is famous for heckling James every chance he gets. With the additional signing of point guard Rajon Rondo, the Lakers will be the team to watch this year.

2.  Even less parity in the league

Even though the Cavaliers were disappointing in the Finals last year, it still arguably had the best shot of any team at beating the seemingly untouchable Golden State Warriors. Now that its star is gone, it is unlikely that any team will have much luck at taking down the Dubs, a feat that has seemed especially impossible since the Warriors acquired four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins in July for a measly $5.3 million contract. Who is supposed to defeat the NBA’s Goliath now? Kawhi Leonard can’t elevate the Toronto Raptors that much, the Philadelphia 76ers still suffer from persistent injuries and the Houston Rockets are probably eliminated from the conversation after signing Carmelo Anthony.

3.  An exciting league nonetheless

Even though the NBA looks quite bleak in terms of competition level, the league always delivers when it comes to entertainment. Even if the Lakers are no match for the Warriors when it comes to talent, we can be sure that there will be lots of pettiness from both parties, and anywhere James goes, drama awaits. Plus, who knows? The NBA season is eight months long, truly anything can happen.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
From the Basement: LABron James’ Decision 3.0