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LeBron James chose the Lakers over the Sixers and Rockets because he ‘likes the challenge’ of putting them back on top

LeBron James thought about joining the Sixers and Rockets in NBA free agency, but ultimately the historic greatness of the Lakers franchise and the challenge of restoring their luster drew him to L.A.

I Promise School Grand Opening Celebration With LeBron James Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James has already given some of his reasons for joining the Los Angeles Lakers at the start of NBA free agency. James has called the decision “a dream come true” and made it clear that part of the appeal was the chance to work with Magic Johnson, who he idolized as a child.

But after the opening of his I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, James told the media that while the Lakers weren’t the only option he considered, his family helped push him towards the purple and gold (via NBA TV):

”I did my due diligence after the season on the pros and cons on a lot of different teams, including the Cavs and including Philadelphia, including Houston and Los Angeles. So it wasn’t as quick as it may seem. It just wasn’t July 9 like it was before. So after talking to my family more than anybody, I felt like this was the next step in my journey.

James then elaborated a bit more on his potential suitors, as well as his eventual reasons for choosing the Lakers in a sit down with Rachel Nichols on ESPN:

“I definitely thought long and hard about the possibilities of lining up alongside Ben [Simmons] and [Joel] Embiid, or lining up alongside [James] Harden and Chris [Paul]. I just felt like at this point in my career, the ultimate for me -- just like when I went to Miami, everyone kind of looks at me joining a superteam, but if people look at it, I think Miami was [47-35] the year before I joined that team and you can look at the Lakers’ record -- so I like the challenge of being able to help a team get to some place they haven’t been in quite a while.

“Obviously the Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in a few years, but the Lakers organization and the historical franchise matches up there with all the greats -- you can look at the Cowboys, and you can look at the Patriots, you can look at Manchester United, the Boston Celtics -- these are historical franchises and for me to be a part of that, I think it’s a great moment for not only me but for my family and for the history of basketball in general.”

From his appreciation for Magic Johnson to his respect for the historical greatness the Lakers franchise has exuded for the majority of its history, it’s clear that James is an NBA history buff, and that his knowledge of where many of the game’s best players have played and how the Lakers take care of their greats seems to have had an outsized impact on his choosing them in free agency.

Now all that’s left is for him to etch his own name in those history books, and from the tone of his comments in his first interviews since joining the team, it appears James is ready to do just that.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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