From LBJ to LGM
There is no doubt that the experience LeBron has received from playing in the NBA for decades is unlike any other. The controversy surrounding whether or not this “experience” LeBron has received solely translates to the game of basketball and nothing else is up for debate. Does LeBron work behind the scenes to conduct unauthorized moves that aid his organization in his best interest, or is he just a veteran player who has a significant influence on the decisions his team makes?
Dating back to a player’s start in the NBA, beginning with the draft, the work that must be done to make a name for themselves is an understatement. On June 26, 2003, a kid from Akron, Ohio was selected first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. What better turnout than the best player in the draft, a Cleveland native, being drafted to his home state team? Before LeBron, the Cavs went 17-65, finishing eighth in the Central Division. With LeBron’s arrival, the team went 35-47, finishing fifth in the Central Division. The improvement the team received just with LeBron on the team foreshadowed the greatness the league would soon experience.
Many saw greatness in LeBron before he became great; however, he needed help. The second-year starter needed weapons to secure what everyone desired to obtain: an NBA Final. In the 2004 NBA Draft, the Cavs selected Luke Jackson tenth overall, a sharpshooter from Oregon. This was going to be the help the young superstar needed. Jackson wound up being a bust, and after nearly eight seasons of consistently falling short of a championship, LeBron’s first stint in Cleveland came to an end.
The idea of forming “super teams” surged through the NBA, especially after the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce of the Celtics super team perfectly executed this when they were allowed to team up and join forces. LeBron aspired to emulate this success. The mindset was that if the super team concept worked with this Celtics team, why wouldn’t it work with LeBron? The established all-star found himself collaborating with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. During his time with the Heat, he racked up two championship wins, securing Finals MVP in both. Now that LeBron has proved himself to be the player he is, he wanted to also prove that he can lead a team without the help of other superstars. In 2014, Miami was put behind him and he returned to Cleveland.
Already having made a name for himself, the homecoming in Cleveland was bittersweet. Without LeBron, the Cavs were a Super Bowl-caliber team without the star quarterback. They placed third in the Central Division before LeBron’s return. Due to how reputable he is at this point, being just a player wasn’t enough for LeBron. Just like when players become coaches and general managers after they retire, why couldn’t LeBron do that now? As players in the NBA, they should stick to the parameters of their contracts. Having already established himself as a championship-caliber player, his influence on the team’s decision-making would not go unnoticed. It is believed that LeBron had a major impact on the recruitment of Kevin Love and J.R. Smith to the Cavs. He almost had full control over if a championship came to Cleveland or not. LeBron now became LeGM. A Finals win came to Cleveland in 2016. Without full authorization, because of his beef with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron decided to take his talents elsewhere, leaving the team in 2018 to travel to California. His pursuits to gain full control over an organization didn’t stop.
Joining a young Los Angeles Lakers team, LeBron had a vision of what he wanted his team to look like. Going back to his days in Miami, he wanted a team that displayed the perfect combination of veteran leadership and rookie inexperience. Shortly after LeBron’s arrival, the Lakers ownership decided to hire first-time general manager Rob Pelinka. This was perfect for LeGM. He could take advantage of this inexperience. He could manipulate Pelinka to make the decisions he wanted in the best interests of the Lakers and himself. Pelinka is on record saying that he “consults” LeBron with almost every decision that’s made. From the Anthony Davis trade in 2019 to the failed Russell Westbrook trade in 2021, LeBron has been behind it all.
It’s no secret the influence LeBron has on the moves the Lakers make. Even his old teammates are outspoken about it. Long time friend of LeBron’s, Carmelo Anthony, has a lot to say in regards to the LeGM rumors. He references a time when LeBron called his personal phone asking if he wanted to join the Lakers back in 2021 when Anthony became a free agent. Because LeBron and he are so close, Anthony accepted the request to play one more season with LeBron.
At the end of the conversation, Anthony calls LeBron the GM of the Lakers as players don’t usually do their own behind-the-scenes recruiting. Also being asked about the rumors, former teammate, Kyrie Irving, addresses his thoughts on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast. He talks about how he went along with the idea of LeBron putting the perfect squad together. If it’s for the benefit and best interest of your team why would you get mad at a proposition like this?
The notion that LeBron specifically chooses players to be on his team is up for debate, but the influence he has on these decisions is not. If LeBron could pick the “perfect squad,” then players he has lost on his teams due to free agency or trades would’ve probably never left. The question arises: is Lebron secretly a gm for his team or does his experience in the NBA translate to his influence on the roster decisions his organization makes? Rumors are hearsay, but facts are objective. LeBron working as a general manager for the Lakers, whether it benefits the organization or not, grants too much power to players in his position. LeGM needs to go.