“In our conversation it was – if anybody know him, he gets bored fast,” Paul said of James. “Right? And so, my conversation was, looking at the talent. At the time, they had – Jesse [Buss] had done a great job in the draft. Kuz (Kyle Kuzma), Brandon Ingram, Zo (Lonzo Ball), Josh Hart, the talent was young, but was there.
“If you’re going to leave Cleveland, where you going? Right?”
Paul shared that winning a title with three different teams was also a motivator, since James would be bringing the Lakers back to glory.
“Who climbs the mountaintop to come back down and have to climb the mountaintop again?” Paul said. “Now, obviously, if you go here and win, you’ve been to three different destinations and you’ve won three different places. No matter how many times you’ve been, you won.”
Paul also explained how James had to have a respect for the Lakers franchise and the legacy that it had before he joined the team.
For Cavs fans, it still hurts that James chose to leave a second time, but at least he did bring a title to the team in the 2015-16 season.
The Cavs, who made the NBA Finals in four straight seasons when James returned to Cleveland, erased a 3-1 series deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals to beat the Golden State Warriors.
That will forever be one of the greatest moments in Cleveland sports history, and it was fitting that James brought a title to the team that drafted him as the hometown kid.
With the Lakers, James has only added to his legacy, winning another title in the 2019-20 season with the franchise. He also became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in the 2022-23 season.
James has now spent more time with the Lakers than he did with the Miami Heat – where he won two titles in four seasons.
He’s hoping to win a second title with the Lakers, who made the Western Conference Finals last season. There’s no doubt that Cleveland was a major chapter in James’ career, but he clearly was hungry for a new challenge after the 2017-18 season and chose to pursue that in Los Angeles.