LeBron James chose to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers last July, a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in five years (and counting) and had averaged fewer than 23 wins in the four seasons before James signed with them.
He could have gone almost anywhere, with speculation including teams ranging from the Golden State Warriors to the Houston Rockets to the Los Angeles Clippers.
While the Lakers might have been good for James for off the court reasons — namely his home and business life — it didn’t make much sense from a basketball standpoint.
So here he is, after another loss, on a team that has dropped to 30-34.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 5, 2019
They are in 10th place in the Western Conference standings, currently out of the playoffs. They are 5.5 games from the San Antonio Spurs in the eighth spot and just one game ahead of the 12th place New Orleans Pelicans.
To be clear, James isn’t going to drum up too much sympathy.
Lebron has spent the season putting himself above his teammates. Words & actions. Separating himself. Countless side projects. Never truly buying into his HC. Part of leadership is getting over yourself and getting into others. Congrats on all the cool TV & movie projects though
— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) March 3, 2019
The playoffs drifted even further away Monday night as the Lakers lost to their cross town rival Clippers 113-105.
It was their third straight loss and fifth since James declared that “playoff mode” had been activated on Feb. 20th. Since it was activated, the Lakers are 2-5, which has subjected him to merciless mocking on social media.
For everyone waiting for Lebron to enter playoff mode, you’re gonna have to wait until next year. Or maybe later.
— Tom Griffin (@tgriff716) March 5, 2019
@KingJames your playoff activation mode was never activated. Let me give you some advice youngster. If you have to tell everyone you’re activating playoff mode, you’re probably full of it. Your season averages are great for regular players but bad for a King
— donalddoejr (@donalddoejr) March 5, 2019
Lebron trying to push the Playoff Mode Activation button reminds me of Han trying to hit Light Speed in Empire Strikes Back pic.twitter.com/fwLZRgbrje
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) March 5, 2019
PLAYOFF MODE LEBRON ACTIVATED ? pic.twitter.com/GwvUro9vOJ
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) March 3, 2019
James had his typical good game, tallying 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists. It still wasn’t enough to overcome the surprising Clippers, who traded away their leading scorer, Tobias Harris, at the trade deadline and are still cruising towards the playoffs.
James still has three more years left in L.A., with the third year being a player option per Spotrac, but year one looks like a lost cause unless they discover something beyond “playoff mode.”
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Lakers as they host the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. Los Angeles then embarks on a five-game road trip.
“Playoff mode” or not, James is in very serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since his second year in the league. And his critics will undoubtedly remind him about it.
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