LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James will play another season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 38-year-old superstar announced his intentions on stage at The ESPYS on Wednesday night after accepting the record-breaking performance award for becoming the NBA’s career scoring leader.
At the end of last season, in which he surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mark, James had said he wasn’t sure if he would be back.
“In that moment I’m asking myself if I can still play without cheating the game. Can I give everything to the game still? The truth is I’ve been asking myself this question at the end of the season for a couple years now. I just never openly talked about it,” James said.
“I don’t care how many more points I score or what I can and cannot do on the floor. The real question for me is can I play without cheating this game? The day I can’t give the game everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys that day is not today.”
The crowd at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood let out a huge cheer.
“So yeah, I still got something left,” James said. “A lot left.”
He was presented his trophy by wife Savannah, sons Bronny and Bryce and daughter Zhuri. In her introductory remarks, Savannah said, “I think LeBron James is the baddest …”
She began to say an expletive but cut herself off as Zhuri exclaimed, “Mom!”
James later returned and was joined by Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade to honor Carmelo Anthony, who recently retired after a 19-year career.
Earlier, Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks told the audience that he pitched much of the 2022 season with non-Hodgkin lymphoma before being diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease.
He accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. The 34-year-old Australian was declared cancer-free in late April and returned to the mound a month later.
“That was an eye-opener. I didn’t feel too many symptoms but I had some lumps around. It just shows you the power of the mind. When you don’t think anything’s wrong and you believe that you can do anything, you can do anything,” Hendriks said.
“I was throwing 100 miles per hour while going through Stage 4 lymphoma and then coming back after doing eight rounds of chemotherapy and four rounds of immunotherapy and was able to get out there and throw 96 miles per hour. That isn’t physically who I am. That’s all this, that’s all mental.”
The U.S. women’s soccer team was honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for its fight to receive equal pay. The players sued U.S. Soccer in 2019 and last year reached agreement on a deal that splits men’s and women’s pay equally.
Briana Scurry, goalkeeper for the national team from 1994-2008, saluted the 1985 team.
“They are the foundation of this entire community of giants,” she said.
The Buffalo Bills training staff received the Pat Tillman Award for Service, honored for saving the life of safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest at a game in Cincinnati in January.
The staff was greeted by a standing ovation. They huddled around Hamlin on stage, hugging him and patting his back. With his back to the audience, Hamlin bent his head and appeared to break down. He has since recovered and plans to play this fall.
“Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive, brother,” said Nate Breske, head trainer for the Bills.
“We’re not used to having the spotlight on us. We were just doing our job, but the idea of service is definitely something that is engrained in our profession and that we take great pride in,” he told the audience.
Breske urged support for funding for automated external defibrillators and CPR training, especially in underserved communities, as well as for athletic trainers in youth sports.
“Learn CPR and how to use an AED because they save lives,” he said.
Patrick Mahomes was honored as best men’s sports athlete, while skier Mikaela Shiffrin received the women’s sports honor.
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has won two Super Bowls in his five seasons and was named MVP of the game each time, including this past February. He turns 28 in September.
“It was an incredible season. There was many ups, many downs,” Mahomes said. “I appreciate my teammates, my coaches, the guys that are here. I go back to camp next Tuesday, so this is a great award. But we’re going to do this thing again, we’re going to keep this thing rolling.”
Shiffrin won her 87th World Cup race in March, breaking the mark set by Ingemar Stenmark for the most such wins by any skier. She went on to win an 88th Cup race, as well as the overall season title.
“This season was absolutely incredible and there was a lot of talk about records and it got me thinking, why is a record actually important?” Shiffrin said. “I just feel like it’s not important to break records or re-set records. It’s important to set the tone for the next generation, to inspire them.”
Sports talk host Pat McAfee handled the opening monologue in his first major public appearance since joining ESPN in May.
The show didn’t have its usual celebrity host as a result of the Hollywood writers strike. McAfee offered a series of hints that comedian Kevin Hart had been set for the gig but that Hart instead chose to support the Writers Guild of America.
An ESPN spokeswoman said a production team worked with presenters on their introductory remarks. The usual pre-taped comedy sketches were absent.