LeBron James has played in eight consecutive NBA Finals, but keeping the streak alive didn't play into his free-agency decision.
"Nah, that was never a thought. I don't really buy into [defeat]. I feel like with me on the floor, I can compete versus anybody individually. But at the end of the day, in order to win, your teams have to be great. Individuals are very great, but in order to win a championship, you have to have great teams."
LeBron knows that his Finals streak is a special accomplishment. However, he is aware that it couldn't last forever: "[The Finals streak] means a lot. To have a streak of anything is significant. Games played, threes made, Finals appearances. These are things that you can always talk about when you get older and are done with the game, but at the end of the day, they all come to an end."
James' Finals streak stretches across stints with the Miami Heat and Cavs, as he managed to dominate the Eastern Conference with some help from strong supporting casts most of those years.
Even though the East offers the path of least resistance, LeBron plans to take the same approach with the Lakers:
"I would never get into [an East-West] conversation like that. 'Oh, he's competitive in the East, but [the West is different].' I'm well respected by my peers and that's all that matters. I'm going to be as patient as I can be. I know I got a young squad, but these guys are willing to learn and I'm willing to learn with them."
James was more of a one-man show in Cleveland last season than he had been in previous years, and it seems like he saw the writing on the wall.
LeBron does have a fighting chance to keep it alive in L.A. this season, but he is clearly playing the long game by signing with a team that boasts plenty of young talent.
Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball all have All-Star potential, especially with James running the show.
Even if an NBA Finals appearance is more likely two or three years down the road, LeBron stands a good chance of bringing the Lakers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.