The Denver Nuggets, led by two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers Monday evening 113-111, earning the Nuggets a spot in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers, who were vying for their 20th conference championship, fell to the Nuggets, who earned their first conference title.
Lakers star LeBron James, who scored 40 points in the loss, has played on 10 teams that have won conference championships. At 38 years old, James is among the oldest active players in the NBA. Earlier on Monday, Carmelo Anthony, who also was in the 2003 NBA draft, announced his retirement.
After the loss, James said he is unsure what the future looks like for him and the Lakers.
“We'll see. We'll see what happens going forward. I don't know. I don't know,” James said. “I've got a lot to think about, to be honest. Just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball, I've got a lot to think about.”
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For the third straight season, James battled injuries throughout the year. He missed 27 regular season games for the Lakers in 2022-23. Despite injuries to him and fellow All-Star Anthony Davis, the Lakers battled out of being out of playoff position to grab the No. 7-seed via the play-in game.
“For me, it's all about availability for me and keeping my mind sharp and things of that nature, being present on the floor, being present in the locker room and bus rides and plane rides, things of that nature,” James said. “It's challenging. It's challenging for sure. It was a very challenging season for me, for our ball club, and obviously we know whatever went on early on or whatever the case may be. It was cool, a pretty cool ride.”
James has hinted previously that he would play until he was 40, as his oldest son Bronny is eligible to enter the league in 2024.James told The Athletic last year he wants to play with his son. James signed a two-year agreement with the Lakers in 2022, giving him flexibility as a free agent in 2024, Bronny James’ draft year.
Meanwhile, Jokic will play in his first NBA Final. His Nuggets will await the winner of the Eastern Conference final between Miami and Boston. The Heat have a 3-0 series lead over the Celtics going into Tuesday’s Game 4.
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