Has LeBron James prioritized playing with his son over winning?
That question has swirled around the league, especially with LeBron signing with the Lakers – a move his friend Dwyane Wade described as a lifestyle decision. Even LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, didn’t emphasize winning when comparing LeBron’s move to Los Angeles with him going to the Heat and back to the Cavaliers.
Yesterday, LeBron watched Bronny play in Springfield, Mass., then drove to Boston to play the Celtics. The Lakers lost by 32, and LeBron acknowledged the 180-mile roundtrip disrupted his game-day routine.
LeBron, via ESPN:
I’ll break every routine in my life for my family. Listen, if the guys is with me, they’re going to make sure I get back safe. But my routine was broke today. But I can care less about it if I’m seeing my family, my wife and my daughter and my kids. So, it’s a unique opportunity to see my son live play that close to where I’m at. So, I can care less about this. This right here is all secondary when it comes to my family. So, nothing else matters.
Does LeBron still want to win? Of course.
But it’s also impossible to summon the same hunger he had when chasing his first championship and then trying to win for Cleveland and cement his legacy. Priorities change. At age 35, LeBron has a different perspective on work-life balance than he did when he was younger.
LeBron will undoubtedly face criticism for saying this. It’s easy to tell someone else – especially someone on a team people cheer for – to put his job ahead of his family. It’s much harder to put your own job in front of your own family.
This is why it was absurd for LeBron to question his Lakers teammates last year on whether basketball was the biggest thing in their life. It’s not the biggest thing in his life!
Listen to former NBA champions reminisce about a title run. They often crow about how devoted they were to the team, putting all other distractions – even family – aside. It’s admirable until you consider how disturbing it is.
There will always be players hungrier than others for a championship. That’s their advantage in basketball (at least until they burn out), though not necessarily life.
It doesn’t sound like that’s LeBron right now.
Will he shift more attention toward the Lakers in the playoffs? Probably. It’s easier not to give full focus for a regular-season game, especially with the Lakers four games up in the Western Conference.
But LeBron’s family isn’t disappearing come April, May and June. He’s going to care about his wife and children rather than be totally consumed with his job. And he’s not going to apologize for that.