(NEXSTAR) – When Cleveland last hosted the NBA All-Star game in 1997, LeBron James was just 12 years old. Twenty-five years later and nearly 20 years into his career, James, speaking with The Athletic, hinted retirement might not be that far away.
James, forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, will become a free agent after next season. Where he goes after that seems to depend on where his son, Bronny James, plays.
“My last year will be played with my son,” James told The Athletic. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”
Bronny is currently a junior in high school, meaning he isn’t eligible to enter the NBA Draft until 2024 unless the league changes its rules. That means his father would have one season of “contract purgatory.”
LeBron James never played college basketball – he wasn’t planning to during high school and was even ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of “benefits” he received at a Nike summer camp, ESPN reports.
It’s unclear if Bronny will follow in his father’s footsteps of joining the NBA right out of high school. His ESPN recruiting bio shows he has interest from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, and North Carolina. Kentucky has even reportedly presented an offer.
Bronny may also follow in the footsteps of another Sierra Canyon School basketball player, Dwyane Wade’s son Zaire, and play with a G League team affiliated with an NBA team.
Regardless, the soonest Bronny could play in the NBA is the 2024-25 season. By then, James will be nearing his 40th birthday, which would put him among some of the oldest players in the NBA, according to NBC Sports. By proclaiming that he’ll play wherever his son plays, James may have made Bronny a higher selection in the 2024 NBA Draft than current projections anticipate, CBS Sports explains.
Any of the 30 teams that are now interested in having LeBron and Bronny would also have to consider the financial strain of picking up the eldest James. While he says it wouldn’t be about money to play with his son, he’s making about $44.5 million this season.
James, who has also played for the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, will play in his 18th All-Star Game on Sunday with his handpicked squad, Team LeBron, including Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic.
Ultimately, Sunday’s All-Star game is likely not the last we’ll see of LeBron James. Where he’ll head next, and when he’ll throw in the towel, is still up in the air.