James, who will be 39 in December, says he aims to return for a 21st NBA season, two months after hinting at retirement.
NBA star LeBron James ended speculation over his future on Wednesday, saying that he is not yet ready to retire and plans to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, his team, for at least another year.
In May, after the Lakers lost the Western Conference final to eventual champions Denver, James had responded to reports he was considering walking away from the sport by saying he had “a lot to think about”. Those comments fuelled speculation that he would retire.
But in a speech at the ESPY awards ceremony on Wednesday night, James made it clear that he is not yet finished with the sport.
“I don’t care how many more points I score, or what I can or cannot do on the floor,” James said after receiving the award for Best Record-Breaking Performance for passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
“The real question for me is: Can I play without cheating this game? The day I can’t give everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today,” he said.
“In my 20 years playing this game and all the years before, I’ve never, ever cheated the game and I will never take it for granted,” he added.
James, who will be 39 in December, dismissed suggestions that he wanted to continue playing in the NBA with one or both of his sons – his eldest son Bronny James, who will play college basketball next season at the University of Southern California, could conceivably enter the NBA in time for the 2024-2025 campaign.
But he said that coaching his sons has helped to maintain his enthusiasm.
“You know what brings me back every year? It’s watching and coaching my boys and their teammates,” he said.
“I see those kids and it brings me right back to why I play. Those kids get me back to where I need to be, just the pure love of this beautiful game.
“So, yeah, I still got something left. A lot left,” he added.
James explained his reflection after the loss to the Nuggets saying he had often had such questions for himself.
“When the season ended, I said I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing and I know a lot of experts told you guys what I said but I’m here now speaking for myself.
“In that moment, I’m asking myself if I can still play without cheating the game – can I give everything to the game still? The truth is, I’ve been asking myself this question at the end of the season for a couple years now. I just never openly talked about it,” he said.
James signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers last August that would keep him at the club through the 2024-2025 season.