Like the lackluster final season of Game of Thrones or the equally head-scratching Seinfeld finale, LeBron James isn’t sold on the ending for the 2019-20 NBA season. “I don’t know if I will be able to have any closure,” the Lakers forward reflected in a 30-minute conference call Wednesday. "Everything that we've been going through this season, just the ups and downs—not only on the floor, but off the floor—everything that we've had to endure as the Laker faithful and us as players and the coaching staff and the organization, it's been so much.”
While LeBron and others are still holding out hope that the NBA season—paused last month by the coronavirus outbreak—will eventually resume, no decision on that front is imminent. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the 16-time All-Star is doing all he can to stay sharp during the league’s hiatus, working out 4-5 times a week at his home gym while also hooping with his son Bronny at friends’ private courts. But even if the season isn’t able to continue, James will still take solace in how quickly the Lakers jelled with so many new pieces including fellow All-Star Anthony Davis and coach Frank Vogel, both making their Los Angeles debuts. “Closure? No. But to be proud of what we've been able to accomplish to this point, I'll be able to look back and be like, ‘Okay, we did something special in that small period of time.’”
It’s been a surreal year for the NBA, weathering a myriad of storms ranging from Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in January to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The league also found itself embroiled in a conflict with China, which began over comments made by Rockets GM Daryl Morey. But the Lakers have been resilient through it all, surging to the top of the Western Conference standings thanks in large part to James and Davis’ contributions. James, who acts as L.A.’s de facto point guard, was leading the league in assists (10.6 per game) before play halted in mid-March amid growing concern over the coronavirus. “I honestly didn't think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did,” the four-time MVP shared Wednesday. “I thought it would take us a lot longer than it did. But I was wrong. I was very wrong about that."
No one could have anticipated a global emergency of this magnitude disrupting sports the way it has and while James understands the need for patience during this difficult time, he’s also anxious to get back on the hardwood. "I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going,” said the two-time Olympic gold medalist. "I feel like we're in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor.”
James had previously been opposed to playing in empty arenas, but seems to have softened his earlier stance. “We know they'll be home cheering us on, online, on their phones, on their tablets watching us playing, so hopefully we can bottle that energy that we know we're getting from them," said James, acknowledging the possibility of returning to the court without fans. “Hopefully we’re able to channel that.”
The Akron native also implied he’d be open to playing games in a single location, an alternative the NBA is reportedly considering. “If it's Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe—not only on the floor, but also off the floor, as well—then those conversations will be had.”
LeBron remains laser-focused on bringing a title to L.A., but the quarantine has also given him time to recharge, enjoying cards, video games and television with his family. That includes binging the new Netflix series Tiger King, a feline-centric guilty pleasure that has quickly become a viral sensation. “Anything that has the word 'king' in it, I pretty much watch,” said James. “’Tiger King,' 'Lion King,' all of the kings.” Hopefully it won't be long before King James sits on his throne again.