LeBron James has given up on his team and any chance of a playoff run this season.
This was very apparent after their 111– 98 loss against the Toronto Raptors last Thursday.
This past offseason, the Lakers and LeBron James made a litany of headlines per usual. But there was something special about this season – for the first time, James would be teaming up with the Lakers to make a championship run in the 2018-19 season.
This move came with a lot of hype, as many people were praising James for taking on a new challenge in a new environment. They championed him as the King of the West already, and were quick to hop on the Lakers bandwagon.
But there were just as many skeptics as there were creditors of LeBron.
Hall of Famer and current President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson was questioned by the media for making some controversial roster moves before the season started.
These moves included acquiring Javale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson, who have all been on winning teams but prove difficult to work with.
No problem for LeBron, right?
He’s handled guys like this before. He’s even been successful under coaches that he did not necessarily like.
In Cleveland, the team went 30–11 before David Blatt was dismissed as head coach and replaced by Tyronn Lue.
This year seems different, though. He does not seem to be meshing well with head coach Luke Walton or his young nucleus.
He has been seen distant from timeout huddles, neglecting to high-five certain teammates, and has been critical of certain player and coaching decisions in the media.
All of these are typical of LeBron James, but the difference between this year and years of the past is that he and his team are not winning at the same rate at which James’ teams of the past are accustomed to.
Now, the Lakers not winning could be caused by many factors.
First, the Western Conference has far and away been stronger than the Eastern Conference in the NBA for at least a decade now. LeBron has had a relatively easy road to the Finals for eight straight years, only facing one or two heavyweight opponents. The West, from top to bottom, is going to give you the best they have every game, including the regular season.
Two, LeBron James’ game might be slowing down. His numbers are always great, and he will always be a great player. He’s averaging 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists at 34 years of age in his 16th NBA season.
That is really unprecedented considering that the rest of his 2003 draft class are either out of the league or are about to retire (i.e. Dwyane Wade).
Although he does everything for his team, he does not dominate the game like he used to. Even last year, the Cavaliers had relatively worse talent and LeBron averaged similar numbers, winning them 50 games.
On March 12, both in 2018 and 2019, the Lakers had the same 30–36 record, and one of those teams has LeBron James.
But lastly and most importantly, LeBron has not led his team well this year.
I was watching Colin Cowherd the other day, a very prominent radio show host, and he alluded to this.
He said that LeBron is a great leader, but this year, he has failed to do what all great leaders do – he has failed to level with his followers.
James has not gotten off of the pedestal that everyone has put him on over the years and made the effort to connect with his teammates and the people of Los Angeles.
He has failed to rally the troops and get them motivated to make a playoff run.
Even though LeBron is great and is arguably the greatest to ever do it, this season has to raise some eyebrows about his play and his motivation to win. He has taken way worse teams to the finals before.
My question is, what’s the difference with the Lakers?
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