In an interview with beIN SPORTS, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was asked if he believes the Lakers will be true championship-contenders next season and though he didn’t say whether they would be. James effectively dodged a question about whether or not his Los Angeles Lakers are a championship contender coming into this season, but he made one thing clear: the Golden State Warriors are the one teams must hurdle in order to realize their title hopes.
He did name the teams he believes are championship-contenders right now.
“There’s a lot of championship contenders, but there is only one champion and that is the Golden State Warriors,” said James. “They’re the team that everybody is trying to catch, but you also have the Houston Rockets who are really good, the Oklahoma City Thunder Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ersToronto Raptors — there’s a lot of championship contending teams, but everybody knows that that trophy goes through Golden State.”
James shied away from calling his very own Lakers a championship contender and understandably so, given the lack of star power around him and the loose pieces on one-year deals that were assembled over the course of this offseason.
LeBron has a lot of respect for the Warriors is understandable as he’s lost to them in three out of the last four NBA Finals. Two of those Finals appearances ended with James’ former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, losing in five games or less. The Celtics, however, have a fair amount of talent themselves with a very young group of players and a couple of veteran leaders like Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
The Lakers are clearly looking to add another All-Star-caliber player next summer while James gets familiar with this franchise, but having played against the Warriors in the last four NBA Finals, The King likely knows it’ll take much more than a one-man train to get to that spot.