With Lonzo taking top billing for sport’s glamour franchise, LeBron possibly on the way, and stars from virtually every team to be found on the streets and in SoulCycle classes, Los Angeles has become the mecca of the NBA offseason. In the second of four weeklong series leading up to the start of the 2017-18 season, we’re celebrating the people, teams, and everything in between that make up the most interesting scene in the league. Welcome to L.A. Week.
During a press conference earlier this week, LeBron James spoke about how he plans on handling his impending free agency. The most substantial part of his answer was when he said, “Anytime I’m able to be a free agent or my contract is ending, then I’ll approach that when the summer comes. I won’t ever cheat my teammates or cheat the fans or be in a situation where I am talking about free agency all year long because I’m not going to give energy to something I can handle in the summertime when I should be focused on what I need to do on a day-to-day basis to help this franchise compete for a championship.”
That, of course, is LeBron really saying, “You can keep asking me about free agency if you want, but I’m never going to tell you anything.” But you don’t need him to tell you that he’s leaving this coming summer for Los Angeles, because he’s already said so without ever actually saying so, which is the main form of communication that LeBron likes to use anyway. Consider these byzantine bread crumbs he’s been setting out in the forest for you to find for years:
- To start, answer this: What’s the first letter of LeBron’s first name? And now answer this: What’s the second letter of LeBron’s last name? Guess what that makes: L.A.
- In 2014, following a Game 1 loss to the Spurs in the Finals, LeBron snuck off to go to the movies by himself. The movie he saw: Maleficent. At the time, everyone just sort of assumed that it was little more than an oddly funny thing for him to do, but guess what? It had a purpose. Because guess what: Maleficent was a product of Walt Disney Pictures, which is located in California. Guess what else is located in California? Los Angeles.
- LeBron chose to skip college in favor of joining the NBA. He did so in 2003. Guess what else happened in 2003? A movie called Los Angeles Plays Itself came out. 2003 → NBA → LeBron James → Los Angeles. All connected.
- LeBron got engaged exactly one day after his 27th birthday, so I want you to keep the numbers 27 and 1 in your head when I tell you this: Magic Johnson, perhaps the most legendary Laker of all time, led his high school team to a record of 27-1 during his senior year.
- If you take the word “Cavaliers” and move some of the letters around, you get the word “Calvaries.” And what’s the singular form of “calvaries”? It’s “calvary.” And guess what: There’s a Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. And guess what else: You bury dead things in the cemetery. And the Cavs will be dead once LeBron leaves.
- In 2015 LeBron made an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. They didn’t talk about anything really interesting, but they did play a game of Faceketball, which is where you wear a basketball goal on your face because that’s the kind of stuff that happens on a Jimmy Fallon show. At the end of it, LeBron dunked on Jimmy’s goal. Look:
- Do you see it? No? I missed it at first, too. But look closer:
- LeBron’s career shooting percentage from the 3 is 34 percent. Shaquille O’Neal, who played for six different teams during his time in the NBA (and who also played with LeBron for a season in Cleveland), has worn the number 34 at only one of those six stops. Guess where it was? Los Angeles.
- Several weeks ago, LeBron James was in attendance when Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather fought. The person sitting behind him was Mike Tyson. In an interview with DJ Whoo Kid on SiriusXM, Tyson said that whenever LeBron would stand up, he’d block his view of the fight, which forced Tyson to watch it on the screens in the arena. I mention this because in 2001, Mike Tyson had a cameo in a movie (which is something you also watch on screens). Guess what movie it was: Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. It’s literally the only movie that Mike Tyson has ever been in with the words “Los Angeles” in the title.
- While at that same press conference I mentioned earlier, LeBron was asked about what he was feeling and thinking when he heard that Kyrie Irving wanted to be traded. His answer: “I was wondering if something I could’ve did better to make him not want to be traded. Is it the way the season finished? Or was it me coming back in the first place? Was it the coaching changes or the GM change or I don’t know? I had so many different emotions go through my head.” That seems like pretty standard fare. But, once again, it was an example of LeBron just being smarter than everyone else, because if we take all of the letters in that answer and mix them up we get: “I am leaving when this season is finished to go play in the city where the Mamba was. I don’t know what coaching or GM change or trade can make me come home. I am gone. Adios.” (Note: For this to work, we have to ignore the 80 or so letters that remain after reorganizing the original statement. LeBron likely just added those in there as a distraction because he is a master at subterfuge. He’s like that bad guy in that one Sherlock Holmes movie who was basically just as smart as Sherlock Holmes.)
- LeBron has been an All-Star 13 times in his career and also he’s been an All-NBA First Team selection 11 times. Guess what 13 plus 11 is? It’s 24, which is Kobe Bryant’s most famous number. It goes deeper, though. Because if we add in his five All-Defensive first team selections and also his two All-NBA second team selections and his two All-Star Game MVPs, then that brings us to a total of 33. And guess what? That’s Kobe Bryant’s high school number, and remember that Kobe went from high school to the NBA just like LeBron. None of this is an accident.
- If you drive from Ohio to Los Angeles, it’s about a 2,284-mile trek. That’s the exact number of minutes that Sonny Dove played for the New York Nets in the 1970 season. “Sonny” is a homonym of “sunny.” Max West wrote a song called “It’s Always Sunny in Long Beach” and one of the lines is, “It’s always sunny in Long Beach / We call it home, we call it home.” Home. HOME. Additionally, the weather in Los Angeles on the day LeBron was born on (December 30) in the year 1970 was, guess what: Sunny. And since we’re talking about songs and Wests …
- In 2012, Kanye West released a song called “New God Flow.” On it, while talking about going from being hated to being a god, he rapped, “I guess that’s a feeling only me and LeBron know.” That’s what is (likely) going to happen to LeBron when he leaves for Los Angeles, which is the same as what happened to him when he left Cleveland the first time for Miami. Additionally: Kanye West → West → WEST → West Coast → Los Angeles is on the West Coast. The strings all tie together perfectly.
- In August, LeBron’s son, LeBron James Jr., played in a pickup game with Hassan Whiteside. In 2015, Whiteside scored a then-career-high 23 points in a game against the Clippers, who, guess what—are in Los Angeles.
- LeBron’s agent is named Rich Paul. Guess where a lot of people who are rich live? Los Angeles.
When LeBron decided to go to Miami in 2010, he went there with Chris Bosh. Bosh is from Dallas. The last three letters of “Dallas” are “las,” or “Las,” which is the same as “Los” if you swap out that “a” for an “o.” “O” is short for offense, which LeBron is good at. Also, you can take some of the letters from “Dallas” and spell “salad,” and guess what: In 2014 (incidentally, the same year that LeBron went back to Cleveland) he tweeted about eating a salad for lunch. And guess what kind of salad it was: an arugula salad. And guess what the last two letters of “arugula” are? L.A. And now we’re right back to where we started.