LeBron James’ tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers was supposed to show the world that his legacy wasn’t just built on feasting on inferior Eastern Conference competition in order to punch a ticket to the NBA Finals every year.
And indeed, rather than losing to the West in June, LeBron’s team, if they make the playoffs at all, will instead be swept by the Golden State Warriors in April for a change.
Making matters worse, the Lakers’ team chemistry is an utter shambles after King James the GM tried to trade everyone on the roster plus the Laker Girls and a couple of Dodger Dogs to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans didn’t bite on the trade, and now James has to show up to work with a bunch of guys who now know in no uncertain terms what their so-called leader really thinks of them.
What’s more, coach Luke Walton is in no position to help, not after LeBron went after him and undermined his authority as well.
The Lakers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on the road Monday 110-105, and while they can easily blame the referees, a good team shouldn’t be in a position where a blown eight-second violation can beat them in the first place.
The violation in question came late in the game, when the Lakers had cut the lead to two points and Memphis clearly failed — as in the shot clock showed 15, thereby indicating nine seconds had run off since the change of possession — to get the ball over the halfcourt line in time:
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 26, 2019
But once again, they lost to the Grizzlies, just two nights after losing to the same Pelicans team that had every incentive to throw the Davis trade rumors straight into the faces of the visitors.
And that Pelicans game wasn’t even close; New Orleans won 128-115 on Saturday night.
Of course, James deflected blame, putting the onus of the Lakers’ post-All-Star woes on those same teammates he has alienated.
“At this point, if you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this,’” James said after the game on Spectrum SportsNet. “Seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes, of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year — just come and do your job, do your job at a high level.
“That’s not a distraction. That’s what you want. That’s what you want every game, you want to feel like you’re fighting for something.”
Lakers’ LeBron James after loss to Grizzlies (via @SpectrumSN): “If you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.’” pic.twitter.com/s3gHiuhODx
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 26, 2019
Fighting for what? The satisfaction of knowing that even the Pelicans, a team that will be in full Process mode for the next several seasons, don’t want you? That your star player doesn’t? That without James, when the King went down with a groin injury on Christmas, the team played on a 27-55 pace, a full eight games worse than their 35-47 record without James in 2017-18?
The last time the NBA held a playoff tournament without LeBron was in 2005, James’ second year in Cleveland. He has been in nine of the 13 NBA Finals played since, winning three of them.
But when you come onto a dumpster fire of a roster, handpick teammates like JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson, and can’t win in a loaded Western Conference — Basketball Reference gives the Lakers just a 2.9 percent chance of making the playoffs — you don’t get to blame everyone else while trying to act like your own role in the disaster doesn’t count.
“You should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this,'” LeBron said.
Instead of saying that to the media, he should try saying it to the mirror.
Meanwhile, all the Laker haters in NBA nation are eagerly awaiting their chance to celebrate the day the Lakers are eliminated from playoff contention.
As for diehard Laker fans, there’s always waiting for “Hardwood Classics” to show Magic Johnson on NBA TV again to forget about reality for a while.
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