(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
LeBron’s First Words as a Laker
When LeBron James signed on the dotted line to become a member of the Lakers, he was all business, as GM Rob Pelinka shared a few weeks back.
Pelinka and Magic Johnson were able to give some insight into LeBron’s way of thinking based on their conversations with him in early July. They noted that he really liked L.A.’s young players and cap situation moving forward in addition to his connecting with Magic and respecting the franchise’s legacy. A few weeks later, on Sunday afternoon via his Uninterrupted platform, LeBron made his first public comments about his imminent donning of purple and gold.
“You look at the Lakers,” he said. “Being able to play for a historic franchise with so much history, and now being able to partner with Magic Johnson, someone I kinda like looked up to when I was younger and wanted to make no look passes like Magic, wanted to get on the break and be Showtime like Magic and then for it to all come to fruition at this point...
“I think timing is everything. For me to be in this position now, the excitement that I have to be a Laker, I’m happy to be apart of it because I believe the Lakers is a historical franchise, we all know that, but it’s a championship franchise and that’s what we’re trying to get back to. I’m happy to be a part of the culture and be a part of us getting back to that point.”
But LeBron James is about a lot more than basketball. He’s been as positive a role model for kids as you could create in a laboratory since he entered the NBA in 2003, never taking a wayward step. He chose to link his first comments about his move to Los Angeles with another huge life event for him: the Monday opening of the “I Promise” school in his hometown of Akron.
“It’s kinda crazy right now because I’ve been sitting and thinking over the past couple of weeks and months on what it means to open up a school and how excited I am about this possibility for me to be able to be in my hometown and be able to open up at school and to know who’s going to benefit from it,” said the future Hall of Famer. “I know these kids basically more than they know themselves. I’ve walked the same streets, I’ve rode the same bikes ... I went through the same emotions, the good, the bad, The adversity, everything that these kids are going through. The drugs, the violence, the guns... everything that they’re going through as kids, I know. And for me to be in a position where I have the resources I have the finance, I have the people, I have the structure and I have the city around me, why not.”
The timing, James acknowledged, is bittersweet, because he’d love to be there on a day-to-day basis for the kids in Akron. But thanks to all the people he has working with him, and the structure he’s built, he’ll be able to stay extremely involved in the school even while going through the rigors of the NBA season, and even while living in Los Angeles.
“On one hand I got my school, which I’m blown away by,” he concluded. “And then I have my next chapter of my personal life, being a part of the Lakers organization and continuing to do what I love to do, and that’s to play the game of basketball, so, there it is.”
LeBron already delivered a championship to Cleveland and his home state of Ohio, and now he’s delivering a school in an area in which so many kids can benefit immensely from such an opportunity.
The writing of his next chapter in Los Angeles will begin very soon, but founding a place to help kids from his hometown dream about a better future is a fitting end - and beginning at the same time - to his Ohio story.