By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Free agent superstar LeBron James signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The Decision Part III saw James come to the Western Conference for the first-time in his career.
James reportedly called Kobe Bryant, according to reports, before signing with the Lakers. It is not clear what exactly the two talked about.
Yet, Bryant, who spent two decades with the Lakers before retiring, approved of the signing. He even welcomed him to the family on Twitter.
James reportedly was considering the Lakers, along with the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. His decision came down to the Lakers, or the 76ers.
While the Rockets and Cavaliers were in the mix, they were never really candidates. Houston was an impossible destination after the team re-signed Chris Paul to a max contract.
James has a strained relationship with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Things got worse after the 2016 Presidential election. LeBron, who backed Hillary Clinton for the election, viewed Gilbert as a Trump supporter, even when the owner gave money to both political parties. Yet, because Gilbert gave money to Trump, James vieewed him as the enemy.
He made his decision after reportedly speaking with the 76ers brass in Los Angeles on Sunday. James already has two mansions in the Los Angeles area, along with a business.
In addition to talking to Bryant on the phone, James received a visit from Magic Johnson, the Lakers great, who is the Lakers President Basketball Operations.
“James has slow-pedaled his last two free-agent decisions, but from the moment his private plane landed at Van Nuys Airport in L.A. on Saturday, he was proceeding with unusual urgency,” according to Sports Illustrated. “He met with [Rich] Paul extensively Saturday and planned communication with the Cavs, Sixers, and Lakers. But he was clearly focused on the new home team. He talked with Kobe Bryant over the phone and invited Magic Johnson to his house in Brentwood. Late Saturday night, Johnson walked through the door.”
“Much was made of the Lakers quest to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs, or sign Paul George from the Thunder, as a precursor to landing James. Johnson, already jilted by George, didn’t have either in hand. James explained that he was in no rush, even at 33, and did not have a problem being the first headliner through the door. He wants to build a contender that lasts and believes the Lakers possess the recruiters, the assets and the salary cap space to do it.
“On Sunday afternoon, James and his wife went back to Van Nuys Airport. They were flying east again, this time to Europe, for a couple’s trip. His advisors didn’t know if he’d pick a team before he left for Europe or after he landed, or even after he returned. They prepared an old-fashioned press release under the leaderhead of Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports Group, but they weren’t sure if or when they’d distribute it. James phoned Paul as he was boarding the private plane. “Call the Lakers,” he said.”