By Stephen D. Riley, Special to AFRO

It might take a while to get used to LeBron James wearing a Lakers uniform but it’ll be an exciting transition. After a nine-point, three-assist and three rebound preseason debut on Sunday, James dazzling for the Lakers just ups the ante a little bit more. Playing for Cleveland was boring and playing for Miami felt too staged but playing in Los Angeles could be epic.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts after a play against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The Lakers opened their preseason at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego but the arena sounded like the old Inglewood Forum. James opened the game with a no-look pass and a deep three, instantly taking control of the crowd and raising the intensity across the packed arena. The same way a street ball game draws the juice from a crowd, James had the preseason patrons on high pitch. He had the same treatment in Cleveland but it just feels better coming from L.A. fans. Heat fans were notoriously criticized for their lack of support (remember Game 6 against the Spurs?) but L.A. cherishes their Lakers.

Titles with the Heat are still criticized because of how that group was formed. Winning a title in Cleveland was poetic and legendary locally for the state of Ohio. Capturing a championship in Los Angeles would be unreal simply because we can appreciate James more now as a soon-to-be 34-year-old. He’s not teamed up with two other stars anymore and has proven he can win alongside another star and a formidable group, similar to Jordan’s old layout. So what he couldn’t beat Golden State, James is still the best player the NBA has. And now, he’s in Hollywood.

After 12-plus years in Cleveland and four seasons in Miami, the best NBA player over the last decade and change has found the world’s biggest media market. I admit I thought it would be weird looking at James play for a third team in a Lakers uniform. But after just one quarter of preseason play I can now admit I’m liking the idea more and more. This could be the best LeBron yet.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO