LeBron James has fueled speculation about his retirement after the Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the Western Conference Finals by the Denver Nuggets with a 113-111 loss.
“Just for me, personally, going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about,” said James to reporters post-game. “We’ll see what happens going forward. I don’t know.” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin further elaborated on James' comments, revealing that retirement is under consideration. When asked about whether he wants to continue playing, James replied, "If I want to continue to play." However, the decision isn't final yet. James clarified that he’d have to think about it when pushed further about walking away next year, according to McMenamin. The Lakers star has one year left in his contract with the team after signing a two-year contract extension prior to the season. James' previous statements suggested he would like to play his final NBA season alongside his son, Bronny James, in an interview with The Athletic in 2022. “My last year will be played with my son,” James said. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”
Despite James' desire to play with his son, his Game 4 performance showed that he can easily continue his stellar career. James played all 48 minutes, scored 40 points on 15-of-25 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out nine assists, as the 38-year-old left it all on the floor in an all-encompassing performance. However, his individual brilliance wasn't enough to push the Lakers into the finals. In the win-or-go-home game, LeBron and Co. were looking to make history by overcoming a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the NBA Finals. Mission impossible almost got off to the perfect start, but the Nuggets came up strong in the clutch and thwarted James’ efforts to send the game to overtime.
The Nuggets were able to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history without dropping a game in the series. Nikola Jokić had another standout series for Denver, and the two-time regular season MVP was awarded the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP trophy. “I think he’s showing other people nationally that he’s real. Like what he’s doing is real. The MVPs are real. The triple-doubles are real,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone on his star player. “The guy is a great player; give him his damn respect. Stop chopping him down at the knees. He’s a great player and give him the respect he deserves.” As the Nuggets prepare for the NBA Finals, fans worldwide wait with bated breath to see whether James will continue playing or retire. Whatever the outcome, James' legacy as one of the greatest players to ever grace the court is undeniably secured.