NBA

LeBron James demands Lakers improvement – 'I don't want to finish my career playing at this level'

By Sports Desk December 29, 2022

LeBron James is putting off retirement talk but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar says he will only be happy to continue playing while he is on a team capable of winning NBA titles.

James scored 27 points and claimed nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Lakers against his former team the Miami Heat on Wednesday, yet his efforts proved fruitless in a 112-98 defeat.

The Lakers have lost five of their last six games and are 13th in the Western Conference with a record of 14-21 for the season.

James, who turns 38 on Friday and is tied to the Lakers through to the end of the 2023-24 season, has seemingly been growing increasingly frustrated with the team's form, and that chagrin was evident again in his post-game media briefing.

When asked if he has paid any thought to his retirement plans, James told reporters: "I know as long as my mind stays in it, I can play at this level for a minute.

"Now, that's up to my mind. My body is going to be okay because if my mind is into it, I will make sure my body is taken care of and I'll continue to put in the work.

"I'm a winner and I want to win. And I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still compete for championships.

"That has always been my passion, that has always been my goal since I entered the league as an 18-year-old kid out of Akron, Ohio.

"And I know it takes steps to get there, but once you get there and know how to get there, playing basketball at this level just to be playing basketball is not in my DNA.

"It's not in my DNA anymore. So, we'll see what happens and see how fresh my mind stays.

"I think about how much longer I'm going to play the game. I think about that I don't want to finish my career playing at this level from a team aspect.

"I'll still be able to be compete for championships because I know what I can still bring to any ball club with the right pieces."

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham believes James is doing all he can to propel the team.

"He's a fierce, fierce competitor," Ham said of the four-time NBA champion, who leads the Lakers this season with 27.8 points per game.

"The team, we're having our ups and downs right now. We're on the wrong side of the win-loss column.

"So, he's not going to allow himself to be taken out of the mix. He does as great of a job as I've seen ever of making himself available and being able to produce physically at an extremely high level."

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