LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James walked down the ramp to exit the arena Monday night, having just finished his 20th NBA season with an unceremonious sweep out of the playoffs, without knowing if it would be his final walk as an active player.
James told ESPN that he will think about retiring this offseason.
After scoring 40 points and playing all but four seconds of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 113-111 Game 4 loss to the Denver Nuggets, James ended his press conference by telling reporters, “Going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.”
ESPN asked James to comment after the news conference.
He played in all 17 of the Lakers’ postseason games, including the play-in triumph against the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite a right foot injury that forced him to miss a month of the regular season due to a torn tendon.
When James injured his foot against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26, he stated he heard a pop. He saw a number of doctors, several of whom advocated surgery, until meeting a doctor he characterized as “the LeBron James of feet,” who convinced him he could rehab the condition and return to the floor without surgery.
When asked if surgery would be an option this summer, James told ESPN, “I’m going to get an MRI on it and see how the tendon heals or does not heal, and then we’ll go from there.” We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
While James admitted his performance was hampered by his foot injury after he returned, he said he did not consider ending his season early, as he did in 2021-22, when he missed the final five games due to a lingering ankle injury, and in 2018-19, when he missed the final six games due to a groin strain that hadn’t fully healed.
“I knew I could get to the finish line,” James explained to ESPN. “Obviously, I knew I had to deal with it and deal with the pain or deal with not being able to be myself before the injury,” she says, “but there was nothing that made me feel like I couldn’t get to the finish line.”
In Game 4 against Denver, James set a personal best for points in a half in a playoff game by lighting up the Nuggets for 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting by halftime while playing in his 282nd playoff game.
While he finished with nearly twice as many points as his closest teammate (Anthony Davis), James finally fell short twice in the final seconds of the game, first missing a fadeaway with 26 seconds remaining and then being blocked by Aaron Gordon as time expired.
James has one year left on his Lakers contract, costing $46.7 million in 2023-24, and a player option for the next season worth $50.4 million.
He has stated frequently over the years that his desire is to play in the league alongside his oldest son, Bronny, before retiring. In February, as he approached passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record, he told ESPN that the only thing left for him to do after the scoring milestone was, “I got to play with my boy.”