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Jerry West shared his thoughts on the Lakers signing LeBron James with Sports Illustrated‘s Jack McCallum. The Hall of Famer, who’s now a consultant for the Clippers, explained why he believes it wasn’t tough for his former team to sign James.

West said to McCallum:

“All due respect to the Lakers, who handled everything well,” said West, “but, as these things go, LeBron was not a tough free-agent signing. LeBron wanted to come to L.A. and he wanted to come to the Lakers. Period. He has a family he’s thinking about. He has a home here. [Actually two homes.] He has a son [13-year-old “Bronny” Jr.] whom he wants to keep in one school in Los Angeles. He will be a celebrity out here, sure, but it’s a place where, once in a while, he can get lost, be himself. You can’t do that everywhere.

“But most everything I got out of basketball came from my association with this city and the Lakers. It was my launching pad. Getting to play with Elgin. Getting to play with Wilt. And playing for the fans. Despite all the losing we did in the Finals before we finally won one, the L.A. fans never turned on us.

“I hope LeBron has that experience out here. I really do. I hope he finds the happiness that I found.” West stops and makes this point clear. “Just not when he plays the Clippers.”

It’s true that the Lakers really didn’t need to convince James they were a great destination. James’ agent, Rich Paul, even said to SI’s Lee Jenkins that James’ meeting with Magic Johnson before announcing his final decision “wasn’t a pitch. It was just a conversation: ‘Here’s who I am. Here’s what we do. Here’s the culture we stand for. Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish. Here’s how we look at you. Here’s how we value you.'” And Johnson was the only one James officially met with from the Lakers before the press release was posted.

James knew what he wanted and made his decision quickly, but that doesn’t mean the waiting was easy for the Lakers. No one was 100 percent certain what James would choose to do. Team owner and president Jeanie Buss told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that they were prepared with “a plan B and a plan C and a plan D and E,” just in case it didn’t work out.

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