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James wants to retire as a Laker, eyes Paris gold

LEBRON James wants to spend his last few years with the Los Angeles Lakers. | EVAN YU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Four-time National Basketball Association champion LeBron James said he has not formulated a farewell timetable but he looks forward to the Paris Olympics and wants to finish his playing days as a Los Angeles Laker.

The 39-year-old superstar and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player pondered the end of his career at Indianapolis ahead of the 73rd NBA All-Star Game, where he was selected to play for a record 20th time.

“I have not mapped out how many seasons I have left. I know it’s not that many,” said James, who is in his 21st NBA campaign.

“I am a Laker and I’ve been very happy being a Laker the last six year and hopefully it stays that way. But I don’t have the answer to how long it is or which uniform I’ll be in.”

“Hopefully, it’s with the Lakers. It’s a great organization and so many greats. But we’ll see. I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it’s coming. It’s coming, for sure.”

James has said he would like to play in the NBA alongside his son, Bronny James, a freshman standout at the University of Southern California.

NBA’s all-time scoring leader James is also undecided if he might play out a “farewell tour” season, as such legends as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have done, or just walk away.

“I’m 50-50,” he said.

“There’s times when I feel like I owe it to my fans that have been along this journey with me for two decades plus, to be able to give them that moment where it’s every city and whatever the case may be and they give you your flowers or whatever the case may be. That seems cool.”

“But, on the other hand, I’ve never been that great at accepting praise. It’s a weird feeling for me.”

“I’ve seen Mike’s, I’ve seen Kobe’s. I’ve seen a lot of guys. I just don’t know how I’d feel. I don’t know if I’d feel great about it.”

James helped organize players to represent the defending champion US Olympic squad in Paris this year and plans to be in France himself — if he is healthy.

“I told myself before the season when I committed to being a part of the Olympic team, obviously it was all predicated on my health,” James said.

“As it stands right now, I’m healthy enough to be on the team and perform at a level that I knew I could perform at.”

“I don’t know what the future holds as far as the post-season. It’s 11 (extra Olympic) games, but it is 5 1/2 weeks and it’s more miles put on these tires.”

James is not worried about lifting the team on his shoulders as he might have in younger days when sparking gold medal efforts in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 in London.

“I’m going to commit my mind, body and soul to being out there for Team USA, being out there representing our country with the utmost respect and going out and playing,” James said.

“But the one thing I know for sure, I don’t have to carry the load. I’ve never had to carry the load on any one of the three teams I’ve been on. I just try to do my best and be as great as I can be on the floor in the minutes I’m out there.”

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