LeBron James’ Days in the NBA are Numbered So It’s Time to Find a New Face of the League

LeBron James recently completed his 21st season in the NBA. At nearly 40 years old, James is still one of the best players in the Association. The King played in 71 games for the Lakers and averaged over 25 points per game. James is no longer the same player that carried Cleveland to eight consecutive NBA Finals. However, he’s still playing at a top-10 level on many nights. With that said, it’s time for everyone, including the NBA, to prepare for the end because it’s nearing. 

James’ pull and mainstream crossover appeal are so powerful that he’s very likely about to get his son, Bronny James, a spot in the NBA because he’s got it like that. Nothing against Bronny but having watched him play at USC, another year in college wouldn’t hurt. That’s not just my opinion but the opinion of many. Having a potential father-son duo in the league is also an asset the NBA can sell, especially when it involves LeBron.

Although the historical aspect of LeBron playing in the NBA at the same time as his son and potential together would be remarkable for the culture. There’s no denying that part. I’m not saying Bronny will never become a legit NBA talent, it just doesn’t feel like he’s ready now. But I can also understand why LeBron wants this for his legacy. But it’s also fair to ask the question; is this what Bronny really wants?

Battle for the Title

While the Association has lots of ready-to-go, NBA-caliber talent making names for themselves, the next face in line still seems to be up in the air. There are a few who have come into the NBA within the past five years that could ascend to the top taking over the throne from James. But for one reason or another, there’s yet to be a clear-cut choice to fill James’ shoes. 

Zion Williamson was supposed to be “next” when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019. However, due to a lack of discipline in conditioning, diet and frequent injuries, Williamson hasn’t come close to fulfilling the role seemingly set in place for him. Add to that his off-court issues with some of the women in his life, Zion might not be equipped to slide into that spot when James hangs up the sneakers.

Ja Morant was drafted second behind Williamson in the same draft and during the first few years of their careers, he’d outshined Zion in just about every way imaginable. That was until the past year when multiple incidents’ surfaced that were not a good look for the Memphis Grizzly star. Morant was seen twice on social media brandishing a firearm for which he was suspended 25 games this season. 

Then there was the incident where Morant punched a 17-year-old kid during a pickup game at the All-Star’s house. On top of that, once Morant returned from suspension, he ended up playing just nine games during the 2023-24 campaign. While he’s still a great player, his stock in terms of becoming the face of the league has taken a hit over the past 14 months. 

Who Wants the Crown?

Nikola Jokic recently won his third league MVP award in four years but after the way his Nuggets were bounced by the Timberwolves in the playoffs, his contention is also in question. And besides, Jokic doesn’t want to be the face of the Association. He simply wants to play and not have to worry about all the extra distractions. 

Luka Doncic is another would-be suitor for the crown but he’s yet to win a championship or MVP. And in all honesty, many of the European-born players (Jokic and Doncic) could care less about representing this American league the way LeBron has for so many years. 

The one player who’s recently stepped forward and seems like the next in line to take the mantle is Anthony Edwards in Minnesota. Not only does Edwards have the game on the court but he also has the swag and personality to carry such a moniker. If Edwards stays on this path, he could be the next face of the NBA and it seems like he’d relish that recognition.

Updated: May 29, 2024 — 6:04 pm