LeBron James is 33 years old and aimed directly at yet another Eastern Conference Finals appearance, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about how and when he might eventually retire from the NBA.
James has three NBA championships to his name and obviously wants to go for a few more before bowing out. But will he be a miracle of human endurance well into his late 30s and 40s, à la Manu Ginobili?
Although it’s possible LeBron could play until then — he’s been one of the NBA’s most durable stars — the deciding factor for James’ retirement doesn’t have anything to do with basketball.
According to James, his kids are the deciding factor in his retirement planning.
Speaking with USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, LeBron said that he doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon (he’s “got too many sneakers to sell”) but the cumulative absences from his kids’ formative years could force his hand earlier than he likes.
Via USA Today:
The only thing is with my kids getting older, that’s the only thing that kind of stops me from going as long as I’d like to,” James said before the Cavaliers played the Toronto Raptors. “I’ve got a 13-year-old son now (LeBron Jr.). He’s in the seventh grade. He’s a damn good basket player, too. On this road trip, I’ve already missed four of his games. That’s the thing that kind of sucks.
“I’ve got a 10-year-old boy (Bryce), 3-year-old girl (Zhuri). Daddy side kicks in sometimes. That will be a deciding factor in how long I want to play.”
Of course, you might do some reading between the lines with this one and see that this could also be an overture for a team in Los Angeles (read: the Lakers) to sign him this summer.
LeBron recently purchased another home in LA and moved his family there, presumably permanently. There’s been rumors that the Lakers are the desired landing spot for James, who can opt out of his current deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of the season.
Then again, perhaps LeBron is able to thwart his contemporaries, say, twice more and he goes out on top at age 36?
You never know with this league.