Fast-forward to Sunday night, when the two old friends found themselves on the same side for one last time in this year’s NBA All-Star Game. Playing together on Team LeBron, they got one more chance for a highlight-reel moment when Kevin Durant stole a pass early in the third quarter and threw it ahead to Wade.
Wade threw the ball off the backboard. It ricocheted into the hands of a streaking James, who slammed the ball through the hoop.
It was a small moment within a meaningless exhibition game, but it’s one that encapsulates the challenge that lies ahead for James when he goes back to his day job with the Los Angeles Lakers.cheap nfl nike jerseys china
Nine years ago, he chose to leave Cleveland and team up with Wade and Chris Bosh on the shores of Biscayne Bay, creating a team that won two championships and reached four straight NBA Finals. This summer, James needs to find someone to join forces with him to turn another team into a championship contender.
That was what made this weekend so compelling. James drafted a team littered with players who have been linked to playing alongside him — either joining his Lakers as free agents this summer or via trade (in the case of Anthony Davis, as recently as within the past two weeks).
By virtue of his selections, the name Team LeBron was quickly, and sarcastically, replaced by “Team Tampering.”
Throughout this weekend — as well as 48 minutes of action that took place at Spectrum Center here in the Queen City — every word, conversation and highlight between James and one of the soon-to-be-free-agent stars on his squad was analyzed for clues about their collective future.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
From Davis to Durant, Kyrie Irving to Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson to Damian Lillard — no matter who was on the floor with James, fans at home could spend the game dreaming about what they’d look like playing alongside him in a Lakers uniform.
And, no matter how dismissive James attempted to be about the topic, it’s hard to believe he didn’t do the same thing. After all, the Lakers are 28-29 heading into the final 25 games of the season, a brutal closing stretch featuring 18 games against current playoff-bound teams. Making matters worse is the lingering fallout within the franchise thanks to its failed pursuit of Davis.
It is one thing, though, for James to be able to pick from a pool of All-Stars to play with him in an exhibition game. It is quite another to get one — or more — of them to play with him in Los Angeles. And, if anything, this weekend served as another reminder of just how big a challenge James and the Lakers have in front of them to do just that.
Going through the other members of Team Tampering — along with other free-agents-to-be — and examining where their basketball futures might lie quickly underscores the potential difficulties ahead for James in Los Angeles.