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LeBron James joined Lakers because he could have ‘a lot of influence’ on their new culture

LeBron James joined the Lakers for the culture, as the kids say.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Over the years, anyone who’s paid any attention to the way LeBron James operates would point out that he prefers to have control of just about everything around him. When you’ve worked like he has his entire to career to be able to do that, why wouldn’t you take advantage as such?

So, when James became a free agent at the end of last season, he looked at the Los Angeles Lakers and saw another potential opportunity to seize some control. At least, that’s how it sounds based on this snippet of this Sam Amick of the Athletic’s story on James’ move to the Lakers.

According to his agent, Rich Paul of the Klutch Sports Group, LeBron saw the chance to build a new Lakers culture with a clean slate as a major positive.

“I think it was important to LeBron that the Lakers are really just starting to build a new culture from the ground up and he could have a lot of influence on the new direction,” Paul said. “As he has said, there are a lot of reasons he joined the Lakers, including family and a number of basketball specific reasons, but team culture is as important to LeBron as talent. And he knew (that) Jeanie, Magic and Rob were just beginning a new era.”

I think it’s important to point out here that James likely views his working relationship with Magic Johnson was a partnership. He sees Magic as something of a peer can learn from. There simply aren’t many people out there who could really say anything to LeBron, and Magic is one of those few.

In regards to the point made in that quote, it’s interesting that James would leave a situation in which he had almost complete control over the Cleveland Cavaliers, for, well, anywhere else. But even a little further thought on that decision reveals how capped out Cleveland was.

Compare that to a Lakers franchise with a ton of young talent (or assets, depending on your stance on the matter), cap space and essentially a brand new basketball operations team and the choice becomes pretty clear.

It’s going to be downright fascinating to watch how this partnership works on all fronts. James working with Johnson, the kids learning from (and simultaneously teaching) him, James’ entire brand working with one of the absolute biggest brands in all of professional sport — the entire dynamic is going to evolve before our very eyes.

Oh, and basketball will be played, too.