When you’ve done a job for more than two decades, it would probably be easy for it to get boring or monotonous. That’s probably no different for Lakers star LeBron James. Even though his job is playing basketball, doing anything for that long would still seemingly make at least a bit of burnout inevitable.
If it is, though, James isn’t showing many signs of it so far in training camp. He was noticeably excited for the year on media day, is feeling 100% healthy, and has been described by at least one teammate as “moving like a freight train.”
Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times provided the latest buzz that — despite sitting out half of the preseason to be cautious — the 38-year-old star is catching eyes with his level of enthusiasm during training camp. In his latest newsletter, Woike described what people within the Lakers are saying after getting to watch James attack his 21st training camp (emphasis mine):
After ending last season by questioning his basketball mortality in a way he’s never publicly done before, some people wondered if James would actually call it quits.
But a few people close to James told The Times that night that they thought he was just physically and emotionally exhausted. They predicted any retirement thoughts would soon pass, which we know they did. Now he’s back with the Lakers, with insiders telling The Times that James has been extra engaged in camp, particularly from a leadership perspective.
That leadership has demonstrated itself publicly a few times, trickling out from behind closed doors. From pushing Anthony Davis to become the face of the team to taking Rui Hachimura under his wing all offseason to try and help the younger forward improve, and even just talking up how talented the whole roster is and how that will allow him to take a step back on the court, James has taken every opportunity to publicly empower his teammates. He’s made it obvious through both words and actions that he believes in this roster, a belief that has likely helped fuel that “extra” engagement. We certainly weren’t getting reports like this last summer, after all.
Perhaps most importantly, though, James has also made it clear to his teammates that for as much as he wants to help them be their best, he still has some gas left in the tank, too:
LeBron was apparently putting on a show behind us while we interviewed Jaxson Hayes pic.twitter.com/ZqUPzC4usK— Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand) October 5, 2023
Will that result in the Lakers being able to raise banner No. 18 when the playoffs roll around? Who knows, but it’s certainly not a bad sign that James so obviously thinks doing so is within reach, and is pushing extra hard on and off the court to try and take this team on one more — and perhaps last? — run.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.