TORONTO — At the halfway point of his 15th season, which by some measures is as great as any other he’s played, LeBron James said he doesn’t know when he will call it quits.
“I do not. I do not,” James said Thursday before the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ shootaround in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “The only thing is with my kids getting older — that’s the only thing that would stop me from going as long as I would like to.
“I’ve got a 13-year-old son now; he’s in the seventh grade. He’s a damn good basketball player, too. On this road trip, I’ve already missed four of his games. So that’s the thing that kind of sucks. Have a 10-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl, so the daddy side kicks in sometimes. So that will be a deciding factor in how long I’ll play, but right now I feel great. So, we’ll see.”
James credited spending part of the summer touring with LeBron Jr.’s AAU basketball team with reigniting his passion for the game.
This season James is averaging 27.2 points — his most since the 2009-10 season — a career-high 9.0 assists, 8.2 rebounds (the second-best mark of his career) and shooting 55.8 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3.
The four-time MVP and three-time champion said he’s already exceeded his expectations for himself as a professional basketball player.
“I’ve already went further than I thought I would go,” James said. “So everything else at this point is extra credit. I’m at 15 years in. I don’t know, I’ve been in this spotlight for half of my years, maybe more. I’m 33 now. This started when I was 15, so, yeah, more.
“Eighteen years I’ve been in this light, so I’ve already exceeded everything I’ve ever dreamed about. At this point, I’m just adding crazy toppings on the cake, like my daughter would do. Just throw all kinds of stuff on the cake and whatever happens, happens.”
James, who enters Thursday’s game just 126 points away from becoming the seventh player in league history to score 30,000, has a realistic shot of retiring as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. If he were to average 20 points per game and play 70 games a season, he would need about five more seasons to eclipse Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s record of 38,387 points.
James said he’ll trust his gut when it’s time to move on.
“For me, I don’t know,” James said. “I mean, you don’t know until you make that decision. The game will let you know when it’s over with. I kind of look at retiring, for me, as like getting engaged. I didn’t know if I was ready or not, but I just felt like it was the time. The timing was right, the vibe was right. Did I know I was ready for marriage? No. I never had nobody in my family that had been married before, so I had never experienced it.
“I definitely never had nobody in my family that played in the NBA and retired, so it’ll be the same. We’ll see, we’ll see, but right now I feel great. I don’t feel 33. I feel like I got, I don’t know, you guys know all the minutes I’ve played in my career, but I don’t feel like I’ve been to eight straight Finals in a row. I don’t feel like I came in at 18 and I’ve played pretty much 79, 80 percent of the games since I’ve gotten into the league. Just keep it going. Y’all keep following me, I’ll keep it going.”
James made it clear that his wistful talk about the end of his career was just that: talk. He has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“Give it up?” James asked. “No, I’ve got too many sneakers to sell still.”