“I don’t want to end my career playing at this level”

LeBron James You don’t want to play meaningless basketball.

Los Angeles Lakers The star reflected on his career on Wednesday evening, after a disappointing loss against Miami Heatjust days before his thirty-eighth birthday.

The Lakers – despite the absence of Anthony Davis – have now lost five of their last six and are only down 14-21 this season. At the rate they’re going, even making the playoffs will be a battle.

While he doesn’t know how long he’ll keep playing, he’s starting to see the finish line. And as that gets closer, he doesn’t want to keep losing.

“I know as long as my mind stays in it, I can play at that level for a minute,” James said. . “Now, it’s up to my mind… I’m a winner, and I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still compete for championships. That’s always been my passion, and it’s always been my goal since I got into the league as an 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio.

“And I know it takes steps to get there, but once you get there and you know how to get there, playing basketball at that level just to play basketball isn’t in my DNA. It’s not in my DNA anymore.”

Now even though he’s contemplating the end of his career, James is almost certainly not going to walk away and retire completely right away. It’s been said over and over that he wants to keep playing until his eldest son, Bruni, arrives . Since Bronny can’t enter the NBA until the 2024 draft under current rules, that means James has a few seasons left.

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But what his comments likely mean is that he’s tired of losing.

Aside from their 2020 title, which ended inside the NBA COVID-19 bubble at Walt Disney World, LeBron’s time in LA hasn’t been great. The Lakers fell in the first round of the playoffs the following season after winning the Finals, then missed the playoffs completely last season. James is now his third head coach in five seasons with the Lakers, and they seem to constantly struggle to stay healthy or find a winning group of players.

Clearly, the Lakers need to start winning. Difficulties seem to be starting to get to James, and Wednesday was a great example of why. Despite trailing by single digits at halftime at FTX Arena, the Lakers didn’t score in the final four minutes of the contest en route to a 112-98 loss to the Heat – who have had plenty of their own problems this season. James had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the loss, but the Lakers scored 24 points and only scored 17 in the fourth quarter.

James signed a two-year, $97 million extension with the Lakers that will keep him with the franchise through the 2024-25 season — though he is out after the next season.

As he begins to contemplate his exit from the NBA, James knows he does not want to play with a team that is constantly struggling.

“I think about how long I’m going to play. I guess I don’t want to end my career playing at this level in terms of a team,” James said. . “I will still be competitive for championships because I know what I can still bring to any ball club with the right pieces.”

LeBron James and the Lakers have lost five of their last six games after Wednesday’s loss to the Heat. (Jacine Finlove/USA Today)

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