For years, James has been able to walk into the Finals with a level of ease, now, in the Western Conference, he must fight to gain that entry.
According to Fanatics, the top jersey retailer in the world, Cleveland ranks fourth in terms of markets purchasing James' Lakers jersey, which went on sale Monday.More news: Jordan, Mavs agree to one-year deal
The purple and gold still have a relatively young roster with the likes of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma in their ranks but the pressure will now be on them to perform. The 16-time National Basketball Association champions arrived into the free agency knowing they could clear out salary space for two max-level contracts, meaning there is room for another star to join LeBron in California.
For the Lakers, this has been the Summer of unusual, the Offseason of Oddity. But the Spurs and Lakers have not gotten too far on their trade talks - not yet, at least. The team from OH made a number of trades at this past year's trade deadline, drafted Collin Sexton with the No. 8 pick in the NBA Draft and have most of its core outside of James, of course, locked up. But it no longer sounds as if it's Leonard-or-bust for the Lakers - there are other trade options, or they could make 2018-19 a building year before jumping into the deep free-agency pool next summer.More news: 76ers to meet with LeBron James' agent in Los Angeles
Back in 2010 at the time of James "taking his talents to South Beach" and Gilbert's original letter, many dismissed the idea of the three-time NBA MVP ever returning to Cleveland simply based on its owner's original farewell letter. This was all because of the pressure James put on the organization with his short-term contracts and his demands to win now.
Over the years, Stephenson also got under James's skin by getting in his face during playoff games, in addition to flopping and, on at least one occasion, making the "choke" sign.More news: Retiring Justice Kennedy left his mark on American society
The blockbuster contract sends the 33-year-old four-time NBA Most Valuable Player to one of the league's most iconic clubs, adding to the legacy of such legends as Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson.