It has been a month since All-Star forward LeBron James made the decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency on a four-year, $153 million deal.
In the time that has followed the move, there has been plenty of reaction around the league from current and former players. Among those is Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who recently voiced to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated that he believes that James’ choice to sign with the Lakers was solely a business decision.
“I was hoping [James] would stay in Cleveland,” Barkley told The Crossover in a telephone interview on Friday. “I look at [the move to L.A.] strictly as a business decision. He’s on the downside of his career. He wants to be a big Hollywood mogul. He’s going to be driving by the beach every day instead of going through the snow. … [The Lakers] are not even close to a top-tier team. They’re a 5 or 6 seed in a best-case scenario.”
This is the point of view that many have taken with James’ decision as the Lakers as currently constructed are not looked to be title contenders that would give James the opportunity to compete for a championship at least next season. There were other teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets that are both looked as franchises that he could have helped lead them to become one of the top teams in the league.
Instead, he has joined the Lakers where the road to the top will be more difficult, especially in the stacked Western Conference that includes back-to-back defending champion Golden State Warriors. He will have the task of working alongside a young promising core group of players with a mixture of veteran talent added in free agency next season.
There will be the opportunities for James to further expand his brand in Los Angeles in the entertainment business that he will take advantage. Ultimately, time will only tell if James can put himself in the position to win an NBA title with the Lakers.
Bob Garcia IV
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