The Los Angeles Lakers are going to the conference finals for the first time in a decade, ending the longest drought in franchise history.
LeBron James is going there for the first time since 2018. For him, that also qualifies as ending a drought.
James scored 29 points and the Lakers wrapped up their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 2010 by topping the Houston Rockets 119-96 on Saturday night in Game 5 at Walt Disney World.
“It’s the reason I wanted to be a part of this franchise, to take them back to a place that they were accustomed to being — and that’s competing for a championship,” James said. “It’s an honor for me to wear the purple and gold, and for us, we just try to continue the legacy.”
They will play either the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers or third-seeded Denver Nuggets for the West title in a series that won’t begin before Wednesday.
James is going to the conference finals for the 11th time overall — six with Cleveland, four with Miami and now with the Lakers. It’s his ninth time getting to this round in the last 10 seasons; the one miss in that stretch was last season, when his inaugural year with the Lakers fell apart because of injury and the team missed the playoffs.