The day LeBron became a Laker: Behind-the-scenes stories

10:31 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — She woke up at 4 a.m. on July 1 with nothing to do but wait for the sun to rise. With as much as Jeanie Buss and the Los Angeles Lakers had riding on this day, she was lucky to have fallen asleep at all the night before. In a few hours, the NBA would learn where LeBron James had decided to spend the next phase of his NBA career, and Buss’ Lakers had emerged as the favorites to sign him.

She’d seen her father, Dr. Jerry Buss, pull off landscape-altering trades and free-agent coups like this before. But since his death in February 2013, it had been as dark for the Lakers as it was on that Manhattan Beach morning as she tossed and turned in bed.

“There was a feeling of confidence,” Buss said. “But I’d been there before, so I wasn’t going to allow myself to take anything for granted.”

All she knew at that point was that Magic Johnson had met with James at his house right as free agency

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