For more than two decades, the changing world of basketball has had one familiar constant: LeBron James and his family.
The year was 2020. LeBron James just made his 10th NBA Finals, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sam Jones and Bill Russell as the only players to accomplish that feat. In his age-35 season — his 17th in the league — he finished second in MVP voting and hung an average of 27 points, 10.4 rebounds and nine assists on the Nuggets to win the Western Conference with almost 60,000 professional minutes on his body.
Surely, the days of Mr. James' dominion over the league run short. Well, that's where you'd be wrong, pal. Fast-forward to present-day 2030…
As much as things changed over the last decade, much stayed the same. Giannis Antetokounmpo got a title with the Miami Heat but still hasn't refined his 3-point shot. After The Process yielded nothing more than postseason frustrations, the 76ers oscillated between 38 and 44 wins in the past decade, toiling as forgettable patsies never reaching higher than the No. 6 seed and or lower than the No. 10 seed in the East. All their mediocre draft picks resulted in mediocre role players. In the distance, Sam Hinkie rolled over in his (figurative) grave.
Becky Hammon made history with the Pacers, becoming the first female head coach in the league. Upon her inaugural press conference, she gave a speech similar to the one at the end of Rocky 4 and shattered every glass ceiling around the world all at once. The Knicks are still, um, the Knicks. Fortunately for New Yorkers, Sabrina Ionescu and the Liberty have provided solace, putting New York back on the basketball map by winning four of the last 10 WNBA championships. After the fourth, NYC Mayor Ilana Glazer gifts Ionescu with the K.O.N.Y. crown.
The e-sports wave is stell cresting, birthing an all-digital league untethered from the NBA. The league features a whole new set of computer-generated players with live-streamed simulated games that should result in a heavy gambling following.
In 2023, LeBron cut the charade of shadow management and stepped into a full-time player-coach-GM role with the Lakers. And year after year, pundits publish their, "is this the end for LeBron?" pieces, thinking they'll finally be proven right. But his inevitable demise never comes. Then year after year, the narrative shifted to, "is LeBron actually immortal?" In short, the answer is seemingly yes.
He stepped off the beaten path Father Time marches on and lacerated the fabric of our spatial plane. He is the alpha and omega. To prolong his career, LeBron spends his offseasons suspended in cryogenic hibernation — you know, kinda like what happened to Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
It's a controversial method, mostly due to unknown long term effects, but the restorative properties can't be disputed. Plus, Elon Musk endorsed it from his lunar compound, so there's that. LeBron goes under for two months in the summer and tweets when he's about to activate #zerodarkbelow30 — the temperature he's dropped to.
After defeating the Heat in 2020 to secure his fourth title, LeBron didn't have much to prove and could have instead decided to gracefully wind down his illustrious career. However, one thing billowed his motivation: family.
Bronny James entered the 2024 NBA draft and was labeled the best prospect since his dad. Because blood is thicker than even the thickest unibrow, LeBron traded Anthony Davis and a recently max-contracted Alex Caruso to the expansion Seattle SuperSonics for the rights to the No. 1 pick. Breaking up a championship contender is hard but when you have a chance to embark on an NBA dynasty with your oldest son, you have to take it.
The following seasons come with a non-stop flooding of paternal moments, documentary crews and Ken Griffey flash cuts. The world stood still when the father and son connected for their first alley-oop, even causing the TTNN (TikTok NewsNetwork) to crash.
As the years pass and his superhuman athleticism wanes to merely elite, LeBron leans more on his ever-burgeoning, supreme basketball IQ. Despite losing a physical step, his brilliance endures. With perennial All-Star Bronny now leading the way, the tandem brought home another championship in 2025 and have made an epic foil for Luka Doncic and his dynastic Mavs.
Upon hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy for the fifth time — with Bronny named Finals MVP — LeBron decided to hang it up after his age-45 season. It was assumed that a second act in politics beckoned, as did an endless list of business opportunities and endorsement deals. Adam Silver offered him direct succession to the NBA commissioner job but he declined, citing too strong a bias towards the players. LeBron is an industry unto himself.
But LeBron, as always, went his own way, moving to the sidelines as coach and President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. He's working on burnishing his legacy in a new way and holding tight to the basketball bond between him and Bronny.
Adding another title as a coach and executive would give LeBron a different resume line in the ongoing GOAT argument. Although detractors point to the career-extending cutting edge technology that MJ was never privy to and the old heads grumble about the ruggedness of the 80s and 90s. Paul Pierce still refuses to put LeBron in his top-5. Even when things change, they stay the same.