Remember when LeBron James and his wife, Savannah James, were spotted visiting a Los Angeles-area school last September? Though LeBron denied intent wider than just using the facility to work out, that was seen as a sign they were scouting schools for their children in case LeBron signed with the Lakers or Clippers.
With LeBron officially in the offseason, rumors about LeBron James Jr. are only intensifying.
And they’re being spread by… Gary Payton:
Payton, via BSO:
His son just committed to Sierra Canyon, which is in the valley of L.A. That’s where his son is gonna go to school with Scottie Pippen’s son and Kenyon Martin’s son. So, that’s a move that they’re going to make. If everybody looks at it, a son at that age, you don’t want to be away from him for that period of time. During the time that we’re having basketball is school time. I think he needs a father during that time. That said, I don’t think LeBron is that type of parent. I think he wants to be his son around a lot, see his son a lot play.
This sounds as if Payton got the rumor backward. LeBron Jr. would probably attend school in the Los Angeles area only if LeBron played for the Lakers or Clippers. I’d be shocked if LeBron Jr. attends high school in Los Angeles while his dad plays elsewhere.
It also sounds as if Payton is accepting LeBron Jr.’s commitment to Sierra Canyon as fact when it really isn’t.
Chris Palmer of Spectrum SportsNet:
Just talked to a Sierra Canyon official on the rumor that Bronny James has committed: "That's news to us. He hasn't."
Maybe the school was just protecting the James family’s privacy. But Payton’s statement sounded unfounded even before the denial.
Rumors of a free agent picking houses or schools in a given city have been spread for decades. Not usually by Hall of Famers who declare it with such conviction, though. So, this one has a different type of juice – but probably no more credibility than most similar rumors.
LeBron James forcefully shoots down idea he came to Los Angeles for showbiz
“I’m a basketball player. I play ball, that’s what I do,” LeBron said earlier in his press conference. “That’s what I live by and when I do it at the level I do it at everything else takes care of itself.
“As far as my business, those things have been taking care of themselves long before I came out here to be part of the Lakers franchise.”
LeBron is right about that. His production company — led by Maverick Carter — has been working on Space Jam for a couple of years now, and if LeBron had decided to stay in Cleveland or sign in Philadephia or anywhere else that project would still be going forward. They’d still be filming next summer in the off-season, regardless of where he played.
LeBron is very good at compartmentalizing his life. The great ones are. Kobe Bryant had side projects, but it never slowed down the effort he put into the game. Same is going on right now with Stephen Curry and James Harden. Michael Jordan did it before them, and Magic Johnson before him. Those guys have brands that are empires of their own now, but they all know what the foundation of that success is.
And they don’t let anything get in the way of basketball. Not like that.
Enes Kanter: ‘When I think about playoffs, my nipples get hard’
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly ordered team president Tom Thibodeau to trade Jimmy Butler, who is excused from participating in media day and training camp (apparently because of his hand injury).
But Thibodeau isn’t rushing to proclaim Butler will be dealt.
Chris Hine of the StarTribune:
Tom Thibodeau on the trade request from Butler: "Our job is to seek out the best opportunity for us. If something is good for us then we're interested in doing it. If not, we're ready to move the other way."
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. “They can pick up right where they left off.
“We’re picking up from scratch. So, we have a long way to go. … Hopefully, someday, we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship, as Golden State has done for the last few years.”
“I don’t believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship,” LeBron said. “There’s only one champion. But that doesn’t mean you’re not successful.”
LeBron has made similar arguments before, and I agree with him. Championships are the most important measure of team success, but they’re not the only measure. There are plenty of ways for teams to satisfactorily grow and compete in a season.
But this sure didn’t sound like the same LeBron who said in June of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title, “It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode.” A key storyline in Los Angeles will be whether/when LeBron regains that hunger.