LeBron James says being away from family ‘sucks,’ but favorite Christmas games have been in Los Angeles

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LeBron James openly dislikes travelling for Christmas.

His Cavaliers visit the Warriors today for the second straight Christmas, and he has also played road Christmas games against the Heat, Lakers (thrice), Mavericks and Magic.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

LeBron James said his favorite holiday games are the ones he’s played in Los Angeles.

“I’ve had a lot of games that kind of stood out … playing in the Staples Center is always a treat,” James said Sunday, before the Cavs practiced in preparation for their Christmas Day game against the Golden State Warriors. “I’ve never had an opportunity to play in the Garden, but playing in the Staples Center, I’ve been there quite a few times. So, it’s kind of always fun to be in L.A. and play in front of that crowd and have that atmosphere.

“I’ve only had probably four games at home out of the 12 … but being in the Staples Center has always been pretty good.”

He said his children open their presents Christmas morning, whether he’s home or not, and this year he’ll be watching via FaceTime. His daughter Zhuri is 3, and James said this is the first Christmas where she’ll really understand what’s going on as the wrapping paper flies off the boxes under the tree.

“It sucks being here (San Francisco), obviously,” James said. “But I’ll be there for years to come in the future, hopefully.”

LeBron probably can’t escape playing on Christmas. The NBA wants to market its biggest stars, and his teams inevitably also deserve the spotlight.

But his ticket to spending at least part of Christmas Day home with his family might be signing with the Lakers.

Including their game against the Timberwolves tonight, the Lakers have played the last 19 Christmases – 16 at home. The league wants to highlight the Los Angeles market. LeBron, of course, just bought a new house in Los Angeles. He also has a home near Cleveland, but he obviously can’t keep the Cavaliers there on Christmas as often.

Signing with the Lakers would also come with the added benefit of playing at his favored arena for Christmas.

However, LeBron’s affinity for Christmas in Los Angeles might be based solely on his 3-0 record there, including a triple-double and this memorable dunk:

Besides, it’s hard to see LeBron picking a team based on its arena. After all, he has repeatedly raved about Madison Square Garden without ever signing with the Knicks.

LeBron cares about his family, and that will affect his free agency. But he has also shown his family won’t dictate his professional future.

So, include this as another reason LeBron might sign with the Lakers. The rumors are tantalizing.

Just don’t read too much into it.