LeBron James has been a leader for most of his career. He was a leader of (young) men in 2007, as a 22-year-old leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA Finals.
He was a leader of men in the 2008 Olympics, the yang to Kobe Bryant’s yin, as Team USA reclaimed Olympic gold.
He was a leader of men in Miami, where he led the Heat to back-to-back titles (2012 and 2013).
He was a leader of men in his return to Cleveland, leading the franchise to their first ever championship in 2015.
He has been a leader of men in Los Angeles, last season’s infamous flame out notwithstanding. And well, you get the idea.
The Lakers looked like they were headed back to the playoffs last season. But then LeBron injured his groin in a Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors. Dr. Karen Joubert, the physical therapist who worked on LeBron’s rehab, said that recovery was going to take six months. However, the King was back in action in six weeks. He endured the pain to be with his team. That’s what leaders do. They sacrifice. They endure — all for the team. Unfortunately, the Lakers came up short and didn’t make the postseason. But this season is going to be different. There are championship expectations in Los Angeles, and everyone is asking: “Can LeBron lead the Lakers to the title?”
Of course he can. LeBron will lead the team back into the playoffs, and maybe even all the way to the Promised Land. He is still one of the world’s best basketball players. Although this year, expect LeBron to take a backseat new Lakers signing Anthony Davis. “We do all know how good Anthony Davis is, and if we are not playing through Anthony Davis while he is on the floor, then there’s no sense to have him on the floor,” said James on the eve of Lakers training camp. “He’s that great. It doesn’t mean every time down we throw it to him, we throw it to him, we throw it to him. But we have the ability of doing it.” LeBron is a four-time MVP and a three-time champion. He doesn’t need to defer to anyone, but he will this season. This Lakers team, beginning with Davis, are a talented team. They will be at their best with the King facilitating — and leading. And you best believe that LeBron knows that already.
It’s not surprising that LeBron looks as hungry for another championship. This is his 16th year of an already illustrious career. He has accomplished everything a basketball player would want to accomplish. He has the accolades and the championship rings. He has the fame. He is set up for life, as LeBron is the second highest earning athlete in all of sports, with yearly earnings that top $75 million. He’s also very smart and savvy with his money, which means he is certainly won’t go broke like ex-pros Antoine Walker and Vin Baker. In other words, LeBron has the luxury to take it easy in LA if he wants to. He is turning 35, and his legacy is secure. But the King isn’t resting on his laurels. That’s not what leaders of men do. Instead, LeBron is all-in this season. He even organized a Lakers minicamp last month to fast-track the team’s bonding and ensure they had the chemistry needed to challenge for a title. That’s what leaders of men do. They prepare for the task at hand. In this case, the task at hand is to win a championship. LeBron is certainly ready for it, and he is making sure his teammates are, too.
The Lakers are deep and talented. Davis is a superstar, the perfect big man for this modern NBA era. Kyle Kuzma, meanwhile, is a talented third option. Then there are Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who can give the Purple and Gold more than enough shooting power and plenty of defense. But at the center of all this is LeBron James. The Lakers are his team to lead, and lead it he will — most likely all the way to a championship.
Article contributed by Carly Gallagher Exclusively for Black Men In America.com