The NBA’s free agency period officially begins at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 1, and much like Cinderella’s carriage, the midnight hour threatens to bring some dramatic transformations. LeBron James will not be turning into a pumpkin (at least not according to my sources), but the prospect of his long-rumored move to the Los Angeles Lakers coming to fruition has turned basketball fans into amateur air traffic controllers.
After James reportedly vacationed in Antigua all last week, NBA Twitter has been glued to a Gulfstream flight that departed the Caribbean island on Saturday en route to the Los Angeles area.
ESPN’s Arash Markazi staked out the Van Nuys Airport for the jet’s arrival and, judging by this video, the plane made a smooth approach and touch-down. (This rules out J.R. Smith being the pilot.)
Tea-leaf readers were provided with plenty of leafy reading material Saturday evening as Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid sent a cryptic tweet about the Lakers forever being “Kobe and Magic’s team.” Considering the Sixers were rumored to also be in the running for LeBron, does Embiid’s message allude to sour grapes?
A local ABC affiliate dispatched its helicopter to the airport and provided aerial shots of LeBron disembarking down the plane’s airstairs, confirming a day’s worth of amateur FlightAware.com sleuthing.
Why would LeBron travel to the tiny California burg known as Los Angeles if he isn’t planning to sign with the local basketball team the moment the clock strikes 9:01 p.m. PDT? According to NBA insider Ramona Shelburne’s source, “He lives here in the summer.”
Pretty convenient, if you ask me.