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LeBron James eliminated from Western Conference Finals

It almost overshadows the Nuggets making their first NBA Finals...almost

2023 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The annual “will Gregg Popovich retire this year?” question that rolls out the minute the last tick of the Spurs season completes may have been answered last week? One week ago today, in fact, it was revealed that the San Antonio Spurs acquired the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, opening the door to a bright future with a generational player. It’s safe to say Pop will stick around and oversee the team’s transition for the foreseeable future.

So, now, the NBA fan world can turn that question to LeBron James.

James and the Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the NBA Western Conference Finals on Monday night. Three close games, the final so close it looked like overtime was all but inevitable, saw the storied franchise on the losing side, and now the question looms — what is LeBron James’ future in the NBA.

Throughout Monday’s broadcast the quarter of Mike Greenberg, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, and Jalen Rose discussed what options looked most feasible in the event the Lakers did not pull off the greatest comeback in NBA history.

Could the Lakers maintain the core of LeBron and Anthony Davis and retool the supporting cast? Wilbon thought there was nothing that the Lakers could add or amend that would make them in instant favored team for a 2024 run. And the truth is some of the Lakers best pieces are available in free agency. Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, both standouts in the postseason, are restricted free agents and could end up pricing out of Tinseltown.

Could LeBron leave L. A. and join a “super team” elsewhere in the league? Stephen A. repeated LeBron’s statement that he wants to be able to watch his son, Bronny, play at USC next season. The panel went back and forth on whether it would make sense for LeBron to have to travel from a new city to South Central. This led to the idea that maybe LeBron’s priorities might shift this summer.

LeBron wants to play with his son Bronny. This is an interesting bump in the road. For one, how long with Bronny go to college before declaring. If he’s a one-and-done, then LeBron could sit out a season and then return as a free agent. If Bronny needs more time in college to develop, will James be in a position to wait it out? He certainly could be a bench asset, even a few years from now. But does a generational player want to come off the bench in the twilight of his career? Playing for the Washington Wizards at the end of his career certainly didn’t tarnish Michael Jordan’s legacy, and he was still averaging over 20 points-per-game in those two seasons.

With so many entrepreneurial ventures, charitable causes, family, and even the film and television world at his fingertips, maybe the man who has been the face of the NBA for two decades might consider how much he has left in the tank and to what length he is willing to go to hoist the Larry O’Brien one more time.

“I don’t play for anything besides winning championships at this point in my career.”

Another title won’t further solidify his legacy anymore than being knocked out yesterday blemishes all he has accomplished.

LeBron James is the player of his generation and he has nothing left to prove to the world. But the world is not James’ gauge, the real question is — what does LeBron James still need to prove for himself?

Watch his full presser:

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