Jerry West slights Lakers over LeBron signing
The Los Angeles Lakers have been celebrating the signing and arrival of LeBron James, who is expected to turn around the team after its worst stretch in franchise history. And while the Lakers should be excited about landing LeBron, Jerry West is not too impressed with their “achievement.” In fact, the former Laker great, who is now an executive for the rival Clippers, thinks it was a pretty easy signing.
“All due respect to the Lakers, who handled everything well, but, as these things go, LeBron was not a tough free-agent signing,” West told Sports Illustrated. “LeBron wanted to come to L.A. and he wanted to come to the Lakers. Period. He has a family he’s thinking about. He has a home here. [Actually two homes.] He has a son [13-year-old “Bronny” Jr.] whom he wants to keep in one school in Los Angeles. He will be a celebrity out here, sure, but it’s a place where, once in a while, he can get lost, be himself. You can’t do that everywhere.”
West is exactly right. LeBron essentially had made up his mind that he wanted to go to LA, and the allure of the entertainment industry along with LeBron already having homes in the area, made the Lakers an instant favorite to sign him. Other teams never really had a shot. It was a two-horse race between the Lakers and Cavs, with the Lakers clearly in the lead.
Still, the Lakers deserve credit for two things: 1) turning around the team and 2) not screwing things up.
They cleaned house from the old regime and brought in Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson, who have helped supply the roster with promising young talent and salary cap space. Without that, LeBron might not have found the team attractive. They also were able to gain LeBron’s trust during the meeting period, which is a credit to Magic Johnson and a few other top Laker officials. For all of that, they do deserve some credit, even if the free agent wooing process was easy.