Five years ago this summer LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood and suit up for the Los Angeles Lakers. In those five years, LeBron has once again made the Lakers relevant and brought the team another championship in the process.
With a great supporting cast around him heading into the 2023-24 season, there is a chance that LeBron brings a pair of titles to LA before eventually leaving the team to play with his son. Even without a second title, his legacy in LA has been cemented.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss confirmed that as such recently. In an interview with Sportskeeda, Buss confirmed that LeBron will get his number retired by the organization once he reaches the Hall of Fame. No. 23 will likely be the one in the rafters with LeBron reverting back to the number this season (as well as the fact that is what he wore in 2020).
"“The standard for having your jersey retired as a Laker is when a player is inducted into the Hall-of-Fame. I have absolutely no doubt that LeBron will make it into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame. When he does so, then we will retire his jersey. Knowing that he will make it into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame, he will have his Lakers jersey retired. No doubt about it.”"
There has been some pushback from certain Lakers fans who are not fans of LeBron. It isn’t the entire fanbase but there is definitely a select group of fans who are getting way too worked up over LeBron getting his number retired in LA.
Lakers fans against LeBron James’ number retirement need to get a grip
LeBron James has never been that popular in Los Angeles. He was viewed as a rival to Kobe Bryant who stole some of Kobe’s spotlight while he was in his prime. This created a natural disdain for LeBron. Add in the league-wide disdain he received for joining the Miami Heat and LeBron was one of the most-hated players for a lot of Lakers fans.
That created a complex situation when LeBron decided to come to LA. Some fans put that aside and fully welcomed him. Some became fans after the championship. Some are still holding onto those hard feelings and do not consider LeBron to be a Laker.
First of all, the guy won a championship in LA and has been a model superstar his entire career. No scandals, no bad PR, nothing. He has been nothing but a great role model that has carried the massive burden of being the face of the NBA. You can dislike what he does on the court but to dislike the human being is a bit petty.
Plus, his moving to Miami does not look as bad in hindsight with all of the trades that other stars have started to demand. LeBron helped usher this era in, sure, but he never demanded a trade or forced his way out in the middle of a contract. He executed his right to leave in free agency, which every player has the right to do.
He will never stack up to someone like Kobe Bryant in terms of team legacy since he jumped around on three different teams. That is true. But let’s not pretend like LeBron isn’t still leaving a legacy. And let’s also not forget that Kobe Bryant was trying to force his way out of LA before the team traded for Pau Gasol.
Some may argue that LeBron does not have the resume to get his number retired in LA and that simply is not true. Look at Wilt Chamberlain. Another all-time player that the Lakers signed past his prime who helped bring a championship to LA after a dry spell. The parallels are frightening.
LeBron has been even better as a Laker than Wilt was. If he has his number retired, then it is obviously a no-brainer that LeBron should as well.