LeBron relishing challenge of raising Lakers from depths

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, August 1, 2018
Adjust font size:
LeBron James. [file photo]

LeBron James says he is looking forward to the challenge of turning around the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, who are coming off the worst five-year period in franchise history.

"I like the challenge of being able to help a team get to places that they haven't been in quite a while," James said on Monday.

"Obviously the Lakers haven't made the playoffs in a few years, but this organization and historical franchise matches up there with all the greats.

"You can look at the (NFL Dallas) Cowboys and you can look at the (NFL New England) Patriots, you can look at Manchester United, the Boston Celtics - these are like historical franchises.

"And for me to be a part of that, I think it's a great move not only for me but for my family and for the history of basketball in general."

James was speaking to ESPN in one of his first interviews since leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and signing with the Lakers.

The 33-year-old James is entering his 16th NBA season. He has won three championships and made it to the finals nine times, including a streak of eight years straight.

James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers, leaving the Cavaliers after four seasons in which he led them to four NBA Finals.

He brought Cleveland its first major sports crown since 1964 when the Cavs won the 2016 NBA crown but lost three of four finals showdowns with the Golden State Warriors. He decided to make a move in hopes of rebuilding the Lakers into a winner.

When James joined the Miami Heat, he led them to a 58-24 record and took them to the finals in his first season in South Florida.

The Lakers were 35-47 last season and haven't made the playoffs since 2013, hitting the bottom after compiling 16 championships.

LA hasn't advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to consecutive NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.

"At the end of the day, the guys love to play ball, and that's what they do every single day. I love that," James said.

"And bringing Lance (Stephenson) and JaVale (McGee) and Beas (Michael Beasley) and (Rajon) Rondo, they're guys that every day they wake up and think about the game of basketball. Everything else is secondary.

"So we look forward to all the challenges."

The 15-year NBA veteran was third in the league last season with 27.5 points a game, matched his career high with 8.6 rebounds and had a career-high 9.1 assists.

James has played in 1,143 career regular-season games for the Cavaliers and Heat, averaging 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists.

He ranks seventh in career NBA scoring with 31,038 points and also won Olympic gold medals in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 at London.

Charity work

Also on Monday, the I Promise School, started in conjunction with the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, opened for 240 third- and fourth-grade students in James' hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The school will add grade levels each academic year, and by 2022 is expected includes grades 1-8.

James' foundation sought a way to help families like the one he grew up in, providing kids with a path to college and support services for them and their parents.

"We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public-school excellence," I Promise principal Brandi Davis told USA Today.

"We are letting people know that it is about true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion."

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter