LeBron James assures fans he will continue playing next season in his ESPYs speech despite contemplating retirement
LeBron James made it clear that he’s not ready to leave just yet. During the 2023 ESPY Awards held in Los Angeles, James confirmed that he will be playing in the upcoming season, even after considering retirement following the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.
Accepting the ESPY for Best Record-Breaking Performance, which recognized his achievement as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer this year, the Lakers’ star forward shared his decision on stage.
“For me, it’s not about how many more points I score or what I can or cannot do on the court,” James expressed at the awards ceremony. “The real question is, can I continue playing this game without compromising its integrity? The day I can no longer give my all on the court is the day I’ll hang it up. But luckily for you all, that day is not today.”
After the Lakers’ elimination in the Western Conference finals, where they were swept by the eventual NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets, the 38-year-old superstar had expressed some uncertainty about returning for his 21st season in the league.
“We’ll see. We’ll see what happens going forward,” James responded when asked about his future after the Lakers’ loss. “I don’t know. I’ve got a lot to think about, to be honest. Just for me, moving forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to consider. I appreciate your support.”
In a recent interview, James’ agent, Rich Paul, mentioned that James could play well into his mid-40s, drawing a comparison to Tom Brady’s longevity in the NFL.
“Five or six more years? Listen, when it comes to him, I’m not going to say no,” Paul stated in an interview with SiriusXM when asked if James could play until the age of 44 or 45. “It’s crucial to understand what truly motivates him, and I know it. I’ve been around him… As long as his mind is in it and he still finds excitement in playing the game, coupled with his health, absolutely [he can play].”
As evident from his impressive performance last season, being named an All-Star for the 19th time, James proved he still has a lot to contribute to the Lakers. He averaged nearly a double-double, with 28.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over 55 matchups in the 2022-23 season.
Furthermore, James has expressed his desire to potentially play alongside his son, Bronny, in the NBA. Bronny has committed to playing college basketball at USC for the upcoming season and is projected to be a mid-first-round pick in the 2024 NBA draft.
“In May, I was serious, and I’m still serious about it,” James emphasized regarding playing in the NBA with his son. “But just because it’s my aspiration doesn’t mean it’s his. It’s not about what I want; it’s about listening to your kids and their desires.”