LeBron James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, as he has agreed to a four-year, $154 million deal. For those unaware of how the decision went down, they should check out this piece by the always-fantastic Lee Jenkins.
Jenkins let loose with some fantastic details in his piece, including that James made his decision as he boarded his jet for Europe. Yeah, that’s right, James agreed to a deal with a team based in Los Angeles before jetting off on a couple’s vacation to Europe. So don’t expect any big Hollywood unveiling any time soon.
What I found most interesting was this section of the piece:
“James has slow-pedaled his last two free-agent decisions, but from the moment his private plane landed at Van Nuys Airport in L.A. on Saturday, he was proceeding with unusual urgency. He met with Paul extensively Saturday and planned communication with the Cavs, Sixers and Lakers. But he was clearly focused on the new home team. He talked with Kobe Bryant over the phone and invited Magic Johnson to his house in Brentwood. Late Saturday night, Johnson walked through the door.”
James has never hidden his admiration for Kobe Bryant and the two got close while playing for Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. So it’s not surprising he called Bryant, presumably to ask him about playing in LA and get advice about his next move. Then LeBron had Magic Johnson over to his house, a meeting no one knew about until after the decision was made.
Magic is another guy LeBron has long expressed admiration for, so giving him the first (and only) crack at an in-person meeting is likely what sealed the deal for the Lakers.
Again, from Jenkins’ piece:
“In Cleveland, James played for Dan Gilbert and in Miami for Pat Riley. He relates to Johnson, the Lakers president, on an entirely different level. In terms of personality, playing style, community involvement and business aspiration, there may be only one figure in sports quite like James, and it’s Johnson. James’s associates could sense that the idea of a partnership with Johnson enthralled him.”
As if that wasn’t enough, when James and his wife were out to breakfast at A Votre Sante in Brentwood on Sunday, he had chance encounters with both Gavin Newsom and Maria Shriver. Newsom is the presumptive next governor of California, and Shriver is John F. Kennedy’s niece, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ex-wife and the former first-lady of the state.
It’s safe to say Los Angeles is a different world and LeBron James is now the biggest star in Hollywood.