Bryant excitedly welcomed James to Hollywood.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 2, 2018
Kobe Bryant will have a lot to say about LeBron in due time. For now, he says in all caps, “I LOVE IT.”
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 2, 2018
LeBron also considered joining the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia Sixers and staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In the end, however, he chose to don the Purple and Gold.
What started with a root canal ended as he boarded a private plane to Europe. The story of LeBron to the Lakers, with a phone call to Kobe, a house call from Magic and a chance meeting with the presumptive governor (via @SINow): https://t.co/YqzGoDZYYp
— Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) July 2, 2018
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 [Rich] 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.
Much was made of the Lakers quest to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs or sign Paul George from the Thunder as a precursor to landing James. Johnson, already jilted by George, didn’t have either in hand. James explained that he was in no rush, even at 33, and did not have a problem being the first headliner through the door. He wants to build a contender that lasts and believes the Lakers possess the recruiters, the assets and the salary cap space to do it.
On Sunday afternoon, James and his wife went back to Van Nuys Airport. They were flying east again, this time to Europe, for a couple’s trip. His advisors didn’t know if he’d pick a team before he left for Europe or after he landed, or even after he returned. They prepared an old-fashioned press release under the letterhead of Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports Group, but they weren’t sure if or when they’d distribute it. James phoned Paul as he was boarding the private plane. “Call the Lakers,” he said.