Skip to main content

Lakers: How LeBron James Built The Player Empowerment Era

The LA All-Star may have been kicked off a level of player movement heretofore unseen in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar small forward LeBron James, a 19-time All-Star and the league's all-time leading scorer, knows a thing or two about records. The four-time champion and four-time league MVP seems determined to linger in the NBA long enough to continue to carve his name into the record books for years to come.

Any time a player comes along and dominates the game at such an undisputed level (James was, pretty clearly, the best player in the world from about 2008-2018), it stands to reason that his actions will have an outsized impact on contemporaries and disciples on the ascent. 

Along those lines, it seems entirely possible that the biggest "achievement" James has made has actually been in the way he has influenced clubs' roster construction. Simply put, James may be the player most responsible for the player empowerment era in the NBA.

Howard Bryant of ESPN argues that James, more than any prior player, impacted the way future generations felt about team-building, by choosing his own destiny so frequently in free agency. James of course abandoned the team that draft him first overall, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as a free agent in 2010. Four straight NBA Finals appearances and two titles later, James dipped again, this time to return to Cleveland. Four straight NBA Finals appearances and one title later, he signed on with your Los Angeles Lakers, and has been here ever since.

James' free agencies always have a seismic impact on the rest of the NBA, creating a domino effect that affects the decisions of rival All-Stars. Now, All-Stars are teaming up and peddling their services to interested clubs. It hasn't always worked out (remember when the Brooklyn Nets had Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving?), but luckily for LA, their star tandem of James and Anthony Davis did net one title.

Are you following us on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube yet? Join the conversation as we discuss the latest Lakers news and rumors with fans like you!