LeBron James was given the nickname “King James” shortly after his debut in the NBA as an 18-year-old phenom, straight out of high school. Fifteen years later, he has successfully etched his name in the hardwood history books.
At just 33 years old, he is in his prime and already widely regarded as the best basketball player of this generation but to be the greatest ever he will need to win at least two more championships.
But before we go crowning LeBron the King of Tinseltown and give him the keys to the city, we have to establish our expectations.
LeBron must hang the 17th banner up in Staples Center; anything less would be considered a failure for Magic Johnson and the Lakers.
Some Los Angeles sportswriters (*cough* Bill Plaschke) capitalized on LeBron’s signing, using it as leverage for clickbait, writing polarizing, cheap headlines such as “Meet the greatest player to wear a Lakers jersey: LeBron James” featured on LA Times website as a beck and call to go viral.
Plaschke did it just to get under the skin of the Kobe loyalists in hopes that they would share the story in outrage. Even their parents, who remember the Showtime era, now have Facebook and soon followed suit, plastering it all over social media in disgust.
Plaschke later retreats in the nut graph of his article and clarifies that James won’t be the greatest LAKER in history because he won't stay to play here long enough to make that distinction but that his resume and credentials already qualify him as the greatest to ever wear any jersey.
At this point in his career, that last claim is utter hyperbole. I don’t even think Plaschke even really believes it. James is in his prime at just 33 years old.
It is going to take James winning some more hardware to truly be crowned the “King of Los Angeles.”
What about the Warriors?
Winning a championship with the Lakers will take a few more key player signings, continued durability for the King, and some bad luck for the defending champions.
You never want to wish injury on anyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some voodoo dolls in the Lakers locker rooms this season. It’s unfortunate, but the Lakeshow will need a couple Warriors to come down with season-ending injuries for LeBron and the boys to have a fighting chance at a ring.
Golden State has probably the best lineup ever assembled from top to bottom. With the latest signing of DeMarcus Cousins, the defending champs gained strength and size, but if Draymond Green and Cousins go down, the Warriors would have a hard time matching up with any team’s physicality.
The Warriors bolster a high-powered offense that can drop 140 points in regulation on any given night.
Their monopoly of talent diminishes the brand of the NBA. The NBA needs the Lakers to get back to winning and LeBron is a big piece of the puzzle.
Hopefully, LeBron and company can compete in the stacked Western Conference, but much of that depends on how quickly Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram can develop with the guidance of one of the best players of all time.
The Lakers will need to get a big man that can shoot and rebound. This pickup needs to be able to shoot mid-range and outside in order for the Lakers to stretch the defenses. He will need to set picks and be able to roll to the basket. King James will be able to facilitate and drive which is his best part of his game if they can.
The Lakers as a team will have to improve their shooting, but even more importantly, they need more two-way basketball players. James plays best when his teammates are engaged and have high basketball IQs. Guys like Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen and less like J.R. Smith and the cast of clowns he had around him in Cleveland.
Rajon Rondo will be a critical part of the new look Lakers. He will bring the needed basketball IQ and playoff experience to compliment King James down the stretch.
Now it is all a matter of how nurturing LeBron will be toward the young talent surrounding him in Los Angeles. Hopefully, he can show them how to flourish into the stars Magic thought they would become when he drafted them.