After wrapping up an injury-riddled 19th NBA season, 37-year old LeBron James was inevitably going to be asked about how much longer he plans to play professional basketball at Los Angeles Lakers exit interviews on Monday.
“How long can I play at this level? I mean, it's up to my health,” he said. “It's up to my spirit. It's up to my motivation. The great thing for me is I get an opportunity now to be around my boys and watch those guys through their AAU tournaments and their summer ball. And that for the last five years has motivated me to come back — just watching them and watching their circuit. I don't have a cap on how long I want to play. I don't want to say this or that. My wife doesn't want to hear that, if it's longer than a certain amount of years. But, I can still produce at a high level, as I showed this year for sure.”
LeBron nearly won the scoring title this season and posted his highest per-game scoring average (30.3) since 2005-06. He remains one of the game's best players and its greatest showman, but three of his four seasons in Los Angeles have been partially defined by injuries. James missed 26 games in 2021-22 due to a variety of ailments — the third time he's failed to play 60 games since joining the Lakers.
During the same media session on Monday, LeBron said his sprained left ankle will need four-to-six weeks of rest to recover, and he has upcoming appointments to check out his weary left knee and groin.
Earlier this season, LeBron said his body will tell him when it's time to hang up the Nikes.
LeBron James on retirement: pic.twitter.com/WOf1gkJLNV
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) December 29, 2021
LeBron has repeatedly stated his desire to play with his son, Bronny, who is eligible to enter the NBA Draft in 2024. LeBron's current Lakers contract runs through the 2022-23 season, though he can sign a two-year extension in August that would align his next free agency with the '24 Draft.