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Is LeBron Done Winning Rings?

June 5th, 2021 · No Comments · Lakers, NBA

I’m afraid I have to say “yes.”

Yes, he is done winning NBA championships.

That doesn’t mean he won’t lead a team into the playoffs in the next few seasons, and maybe advance a round or two.

But a fifth championship ring, which would be his second with the Los Angeles Lakers?


It seems too late for James to add to his championship credentials, and isn’t it funny how quickly that snuck up on us?

A week ago the Lakers led 2-1 over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference playoffs first round, but three games later the Suns had brushed the Lakers aside, concluding with 125-85 and 113-100 humblings of the defending NBA champions.

And now we think back to that “bubble” series victory in Orlando last October. When the Lakers lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a nearly empty arena. Ah, the good old days.

So, let’s get down to exploring what is going to keep James from doing that again.

–His fragile sidekick. Anthony Davis, the 6-foot-10 wingman to James ended the season with a groin injury, and sat out Game 5 of the Suns series and lasted five minutes in the series-ending Game 6.

It is fair to say Davis is injury-prone. Have a look at this list, going back to Davis’s rookie year, and take note of all the episodes that kept him out of games — including the 36 (of 72) regular-season games Davis missed this season with a “calf/Achilles” injury.

LeBron is a medical marvel, in the sense that he has powered through most of 18 seasons without regular stints spent getting healthy.

Davis is at the other end of the durability spectrum.

–The Lakers roster issues. They have a grand total of three players signed to contracts for the 2021-22 season. A big part of that is paying LeBron and Anthony Davis, who between them will make $76 million next season ($41m to LeBron, $35m to Davis — which puts a huge dent into the Lakers’ ability to sign useful guys, never mind star-quality players. Unless club ownership is ready to take on salary tax in a big way.

(Watching general manager Rob Pelinka & Co. try to fill out a roster could be a spectator sport.)

–Father Time. James turns 37 in late December, and at some point here doesn’t he have to show declining skills and quickness? He is one of the smartest players in the game, but his body sometime soon is going to begin telling him “no”. (And maybe that happened this year, when an ankle sprain cost him 27 games; he was not fully healed, either, as the playoffs began.)

–Locked in. The Lakers owe all that money (above) to two guys — James and Anthony Davis, who are scheduled for similar amounts in the following (2022-23 season). They are not going away.

Now, fans look to see if management can come up with some kids who can play, at a low cost. Or some vets hanging on and willing to take less money.

Meantime, the clock is running. If LeBron elects to stay in L.A., he will be turn 38 when his current contract runs out.

Not even LeBron can guarantee competitive teams given the conditions he is looking, both in the short and long term.

And that leads me to believe his trophy-winning days are past.

Nothing to be ashamed. Nobody plays forever but almost no one has done what LeBron James as done, enough to put him squarely in the Greatest of All Time discussion.


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