LeBron James responds to Nuggets coach’s dig with nearly inscrutable Instagram post

The Denver Nuggets are NBA champions, but their head coach remembered what LeBron James did after their Western Conference finals win.

In case you need a refresher, the Nuggets swept James’ Los Angeles Lakers and James responded by floating the idea he could retire this offseason, telling reporters he would have to think about if he wants to play next season. If you know anything about LeBron James, this did not seem like a real possibility, as nearly all of his comments over the last few years previously indicated he would play until at least the 2024-25 season.

The improbability didn’t stop James from dominating coverage of the Nuggets’ first ever conference finals win. The Nuggets, who spent the whole series with a chip on their shoulder, very clearly did not appreciate this.

So when Denver head coach Michael Malone did a post-championship interview with “The Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday, he couldn’t resist taking a dig at the Lakers star:

Malone’s dig:

“Speaking of the Lakers, I just wanted you guys to know — this is breaking news — I’m thinking about retiring. So don’t tell anybody.”

Malone later clarified he was joking, but the message was already clear.

The joke appeared to catch the attention of James, who posted a response on Instagram two days later … we think. Here it is:

The full caption:

In Europe for the last past few weeks minding my business and I hear I’m on your mind that much huh??? I mean I guess I see why. 🤷🏾‍♂️ But Wave the flag on these lames!! Please make being player cool again cause the lame machine is at an all-time high. Enjoy your light but just know I’m the SUN. I stay on forever! 😉🫡🙏🏾👑

The post is laden with the usual James crypticness, but here’s out best attempt at a translation:

“I was vacationing in Europe for the past few weeks when I heard you, Michael Malone, made fun of me. I understand why you did it, but I’m not impressed. Enjoy you first ever championship, but understand I am still more accomplished than you and am not going away.”

Assuming that’s what James meant — and for all we know he’s talking about something completely different — it’s a pretty funny footnote that James ended his message with “I stay on forever” when this whole thing started with him needlessly suggesting he could retire.

May 16, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone signals as Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) looks on in the first quarter during game one of the Western Conference Finals for the 2023 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets sweeping the Lakers wasn’t the end of their back-and-forth with LeBron James. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

The Nuggets-Lakers games already figured to be worth watching next season, but Denver now appears to have James’ full attention.