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Everything LeBron James Has Said About His Potential NBA Retirement

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LeBron James Quotes About Retiring from the NBA
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LeBron James has been a pillar of the NBA for over two decades, and the idea of retirement is inevitably coming into focus.

The basketball legend was drafted as the No. 1 player for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. He joined the Miami Heat in 2010 before returning to the Cavaliers in 2014, helping the franchise win its first-ever NBA Championship in 2016. James moved to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, signing a two-year contract for $97.1 million in 2022.

James — who has been married to Savannah James since 2013 — has a lot to look forward to whenever he decides to officially hang up his jersey. Before he leaves the league for good, James wants to share the court with his eldest son, Bronny James. (He also shares son Bryce Maximus and daughter Zhuri with Savannah).

“I need to be on the floor with my boy, I got to be on the floor with Bronny,” LeBron told ESPN in 2023. “Either in the same uniform or a matchup against him. … But I would love to do the whole Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. thing. That would be ideal, for sure. … I’m here already, so I’m just waiting on him.”

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Scroll down for LeBron’s most candid quotes about retiring from the NBA:

May 2023

After the Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 West Conference Finals, LeBron told reporters during a press conference that he hadn’t “begun to even think about next year” when asked about the possibility of retiring.

“We had a great run, but we fell short of our goal and our goal is to win championships,” he said. “That’s what this franchise is about, so that’s disappointing.”

He continued: “I don’t like to say it was a successful year because I don’t play for anything besides winning championships at this point in my career. I don’t get a kick out of making a conference appearance. I’ve done it a lot. It’s not fun [for] me to not be able to get to the finals.”

LeBron hinted that his athletic future was up in the air. “We’ll see what happens going forward, but I don’t know,” he added. “I’ve got a lot to think about, to be honest. Just personally, with me moving forward with the Game of basketball, I got a lot to think about.”

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May 2023

When responding to a fan page’s tribute to his career, LeBron shared a cryptic post stating the world should “appreciate him while he’s still here,” adding that “more greatness” was “on the way.”

He shared the same post via his Instagram Story, adding some lyrics to Jay-Z’s “What More Can I Say”: “I supposed to be number one on everybody’s list. We’ll see what happens when I no longer exist.”

The message prompted fans to believe that retirement was — at the very least — on LeBron’s mind.

LeBron James Quotes About Retiring from the NBA
LeBron James, Bryce James, Zhuri James, Savannah James, and Bronny James Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

July 2023

At the 2023 ESPYs, LeBron received an award for surpassing the NBA’s highest-scoring record. (He scored 28.9 points per Game throughout the season, with an average of 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists.)

During his speech, he spoke about the rumors of his retirement from the game.

“I don’t care how many more points, or what I can or cannot do on the floor,” LeBron said. “The real question for me is, ‘Can I play without cheating this game?’ The day I can’t give everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.”

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LeBron James Quotes About Retiring from the NBA
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February 2024

Despite reports that the Golden State Warriors inquired about making a trade for LeBron at the league’s deadline, LeBron insisted at an All-Star Game press conference that he wanted to end his career with the Lakers.

LeBron stated, “I have not mapped out how many seasons I have left,” adding, “I know it’s not that many. … I am a Laker and I’m happy and [have] been very happy being a Laker the last six years and hopefully it stays that way. But I don’t have the answer to how long it is or which uniform I’ll be in. Hopefully [it] is with the Lakers. It’s a great organization, so many greats. But we’ll see.”

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