The Los Angeles Lakers starting 0-1 hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm LeBron James has about his first chance to wear the team’s iconic forum blue and gold jerseys in a regular season game at Staples Center on Saturday night.
“It’s game day, and it’s an opportunity for all of us to be excited about what the season has in store. I’m excited for the game tonight, our team is excited, so it’s going to be fun,” James told reporters at the team’s morning shootaround.
“There’s a lot of excitement today,” James continued. “A lot of excitement for our fans I believe, from the city. We’re excited to showcase to our fans what we’ve been working on for the last month.”
All of that is innocuous enough — and James’ next statement probably was too — but then he made a declaration that is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
“I can promise to our fans we’re not the team tonight that we’re gonna be in January and February, but we will be extremely excited to be out there,” James said.
That is ... interesting for a few reasons. While James almost assuredly meant this as saying that the Lakers are going to get better, the way his last two entries into new teams have went — all the drama during his first year in Miami, most memorably with James implying that he might want Pat Riley to coach again, as well as the repeated trade deadline overhauls of the Cleveland Cavaliers during James’ second tenure with the team that drafted him — will definitely leave some taking this quote as evidence James wants more help.
Again, that is probably not what James meant, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean the Lakers won’t make trades, or find a player to use their last open roster spot on. However, it also doesn’t mean that that’s what James was saying they’ll do, as James has repeatedly said that he’ll be patient with his developing teammates and that people will have to be patient with the Lakers as the rebuilt team tries to get on the same page.
Despite whatever schadenfreude that quote will cause though, things are calm for now, and there aren’t many actual roster overhaul rumors to be had as the whole team is essentially singing “Kumbaya” about one another.
That could change at some point — as it often has with James teams — but right now things seem to be going well, and a new Nike “Just Do It” ad exploring James’ introduction to NBA fans even left James reflective about his career to this point.
Just a small-town kid with big-city dreams. #justdoit @KingJames pic.twitter.com/okTQBM8hLI— Nike (@Nike) October 20, 2018
“It’s been a great journey for me throughout my whole life, I had big dreams before I thought it was even possible to be a part of this league,” James said. “That’s why I give everything to this game.
“I know where I was, I know where I come from, and I know exactly how hard it was under the circumstances to get to this point, so I don’t take a moment for granted to be able to come here.”
With James’ Staples Center debut for the Lakers just hours away, him being able to “come here” does finally feel real, as does everything that comes with it.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.