The NBA world had a seismic shift Sunday night when it was announced that LeBron James is taking his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers for a four-year, $154 million contract.
The announcement came in a tweeted press release from Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents James. The deal cannot be signed until Friday.
James now goes to one of the biggest markets in the world to help expand his brand. He is joining one of the most successful franchises in all of sports as the Lakers look to return as a contender for the first time in years.
As someone who has been a Lakers fan for life, the move had me ecstatic. Prior to the 2013-14 season, the Lakers only missed the playoffs five times in their entire history. They started playing basketball in 1948. The team just missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season this year. James and the other moves by the team should easily help the remaining young talent on the Lakers enter the playoffs next April and try to compete for a title.
This also continues the Lakers’ rich history get richer. Six of the top eight scorers in NBA history have all played for the Lakers now. Only Michael Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki have not.
With the Boston Celtics getting back to dominance as well, this sets up the possibility to see the Celtics-Lakers meet again in the NBA Finals to extend the total to 13, seven more than the next most common matchup in the finals.
While the NBA may like the idea of one of the best rivalries renewed, this move will come at a cost for the league.
The West was already considered the stronger conference. Now the best player in the league joins the already loaded West. With Derrick Rose resigning with the Minnesota Timberwolves, every active player that has won the NBA MVP is on a roster in the West.
While the top two or three teams in the East can compete with the West, the addition of James to the Lakers continues to strengthen the West from top to bottom.
The competitive balance is way off now, but this move should make Celtics, 76ers and Toronto Raptors fans happy as it has opened up the road to an Eastern Conference championship for one of those three teams to be the first non-James team to win the East since 2010. It is unknown yet how James and the Lakers will be compared to the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, but minus Kobe Bryant’s last game, Lakers fans will have something exciting late in the season for the first time in years and that is all thanks to one tweet on a Sunday night in July.
Luke Peterson is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org