Years of frustration resulting from the strike with the best free agents were erased in some respects last summer when the Los Angeles Lakers signed with LeBron James. Not only has the proud franchise added the biggest player in the game, as they did in a long-term contract.
James' signature coincided with the beginning of a two-year window in which Lakers basketball operations president Magic Johnson promised to deliver in the same manner as his passes during the Showtime Era.
While adding James to a young and promising core that is developing seems to make Lakers a prime destination, there are conflicting reports about the willingness of other stars to play in Los Angeles.
At the time, he was looking for a Minnesota Timberwolves trade, Jimmy Butler allegedly did not include the Lakers in his list of favorite teams. It was said that Kawhi Leonard was apprehensive at the idea of playing alongside James, and Paul George notoriously did not give the Lakers a free agency meeting.
Kevin Durant, a target of Lakers rumors came free agency 2019, openly questioned why an elite player would want to play with James given the dominant ball shape he can be. Durant also noted the "toxic" environment that comes with the media attention James commands.
"What I know about being around him in the last few months is that he's an incredible team-mate, he's very selfless, he's won several championships with other stars," said Lakers coach Luke Walton when Durant's comments were transmitted to him.
"Again, I did not read the article so I can not comment on that, but for me the question is why do not you want to play with LeBron? He is a winner, he is a credible player and is not selfish. "
The issues raised by Durant are common choruses that have accompanied James since joining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the Miami Heat. Bosh was largely sidelined and often made the scapegoat for team failures as well as Kevin Love while he and James were teammates at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Of course, there was also Kyrie Irving requesting to be traded because of her desire to escape from James's shadow.
However, the front-office staff, coaches and Lakers players praised the three-time champion. Likewise, James expressed his joy at the team's current status and trajectory.
"I love everything that's been going on with our club and franchise since I got here," he said in training.