LeBron James: ‘I’m Confident That Players Want to Play With Me’

LeBron James pooh-poohs the growing perception that marquee free agents don’t want to join forces with him in Los Angeles.

James, 34, is “very optimistic” that Lakers team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka will find him a co-star.

Having missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005, LeBron says this will be a “critical summer.”

Per Bleacher Report:

“I’ve never played fantasy basketball,” James says. “But I will be as active as I need to be for this franchise to get better. That’s why I came here. I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel. We have an opportunity to get better. And there’s a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise. So I’ll be as active as I need to be for us to get better and go from there.”

The stakes are considerable for all, but perhaps highest for the Lakers. James will be starting his 17th season next fall, and though he continues to produce at an MVP level, that cannot last forever. The 17-game absence that followed his groin injury was the longest of his career. He has no time to wait.

“It’s a critical summer for myself,” James says. “Obviously, the franchise is going to live forever. But for me personally, it’s very critical, because I want to compete and I want to compete now.”

James has heard the speculative chatter—that other stars don’t want to join him. That they’d have to sacrifice too much to play with him. That the Lakers have lost their magical charm.

“They got me,” James retorts, laughing. “I’m very confident. And I’m confident that players want to play with me. I’m very confident in that.”

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