LeBron James says he hopes to remain a Laker as his career draws to a close; ’50-50’ on if he wants farewell tour

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who set a new NBA record by making his 20th All-Star appearance at the weekend, told reporters ahead of the history-setting night in Indianapolis that he wants to finish his career as a Laker.

The four-time NBA champion added that although he hasn’t “mapped out” how many seasons he has left, he admitted that “it’s not that many” and is still weighing up the idea of having a farewell tour in his final season.

“I also don’t know if I will – I was asked this question a couple days ago - will you kind of take the farewell tour, or will you kind of just Tim Duncan it?” James said, referencing the understated San Antonio Spurs legend.

“I’m 50-50, I’m going to be honest because there’s times when I feel like I guess I owe it to my fans that have been along this journey with me for two decades plus, to be able to give them that moment where it’s every city and whatever the case may be and they give you your flowers or whatever the case may be. That seems cool.

“But the other side of I’ve never been that great with accepting, like, praise. It’s a weird feeling for me. I never really talked about it much, but it’s just a weird feeling for me. So to go in each city, if that’s the case – I don’t know.

“I’ve seen [Michael Jordan]’s, I’ve seen Kobe [Bryant]’s. I’ve seen a lot of guys. I just don’t know how I’d feel. I don’t know if I’d feel great about it. Maybe the only child in me – maybe.”

James said he’s been “very happy” as a Laker over the last six seasons, adding that “hopefully, it stays that way.”

James has a player option for $51.4 million next season, according to Spotrac, but can decline it and become an unrestricted free agent.

“But I don’t have the answer to how long it is or which uniform I’ll be in,” he said. “Hopefully, it is with the Lakers. It’s a great organization and so many greats. But we’ll see. I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it’s coming. It’s coming, for sure.”

James showcased his signature dunk at the All-Star Game. - Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
James showcased his signature dunk at the All-Star Game. - Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

James, 39, now stands alone as the player with most All Star appearances, surpassing the previous record of 19 he held jointly with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

James, the NBA’s all-time leading points scorer, said playing in an All-Star Game was always a dream of his - but surely 20 would have been beyond his wildest imagination.

“I think as a kid growing up and loving the game of basketball and watching the NBA All-Star Weekend and seeing the Sunday game, I always had dreams and visions if I was able to play the game at a high level and give everything to the game, hopefully, I could be a part of that game someday,” James said on what the All-Star Game has meant to him in his career.

“It’s just been an absolute honor to be able to grace the floor throughout my career and be out there with the greatest players in the world year in and year out. This is very humbling, very blessed, and it’s something I will never forget, obviously. It’s part of my journey.”

When asked if he was still committed to play for Team USA at this summer’s Olympics, James said that as long as he remains healthy, he would play.

“I told myself before the season when I committed to being a part of the Olympic team, obviously, it was all predicated on my health. As it stands right now, I am healthy enough to be on the team and perform at a level that I know I could perform at,” James said.

James and the Western Conference All-Stars. - Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
James and the Western Conference All-Stars. - Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

“If I’m committed, which I am, to Team USA, then I’m going to commit my mind, body and soul to being out there for Team USA, being out there representing our country with the utmost respect and go out and play.”

James has helped the US men’s basketball team capture two gold medals and a bronze medal in his international Olympic career.

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