For all we know, LeBron James could be right.
After all, he’s closer and more inside it than anyone. Maybe, the Los Angeles Lakers do have problems off the court and that’s why they have played like hot garbage during the NBA’s Orlando Bubble restart.
Still, it’s hard not to think that LeBron accomplished his mission when he opened up to a reporter the other day about the team’s lack of rhythm on offense. The target? His own team.
“It’s just some things that you can’t control that’s here, that I really don’t want to talk about, that’s off the court,” James said. Enter a reason many star players over the years have elected not to play with James when given a chance in free agency. None bigger than Kawhi Leonard. He would have been on easy street had he joined James and Anthony Davis.
Instead, Leonard picked the Los Angeles Clippers who have NEVER won jack.
It didn’t make sense to some. For others, it was obvious.
While some consider James to be the G.O.A.T., no one else gets any credit when he wins. But his teammates usually end up being the scapegoats when he loses. And James has lost more Finals sets than any regular-season MVP in NBA history. James is an unimpressive 3-6 in the Finals.
James, 35, has a great chance to win a championship this season. If the Lakers don’t win, remember this nugget LeBron planted. Many of his minions will go back to this as the reason why, and not put it on LeBron.
Without elaborating on what ails the Lakers, folks can only guess what James is talking about. Worse, reporters and analysts can make up their own theories why life hasn’t been magical in Disney for LeBron and his squad.
On Saturday, James and the Lakers lost to the Indiana Pacers, 116-111. The Lakers have now lost four of their six games since the NBA resumed after being stopped by the pandemic. And most of the losses have been ugly, including ones to the Thunder and Rockets.
The Lakers are shooting just 25 percent from three, worst in this restart and just 41 percent from the field, also at the bottom of the bubble, as is their average point total of 100.4.
The struggles have made some wonder if the Lakers will have enough to win a championship, despite having James and Davis leading the way. Still, this is a strange revelation coming from James. The bubble, which has been able to keep ’rona out and the players disease- free thus far, was supposed to be the perfect place for a team to bond and focus solely on basketball.
There are few outside distractions — not even from a player’s family, who won’t be able to visit till after the first round of the playoffs.
Yet James is bellyaching about his teammates.
Funny, because a few days ago, LeBron was celebrating the Lakers’ No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. On that night, the Lakers looked good to go. Davis scored 42 points and added 12 rebounds in the eight-point win over the Utah Jazz.
For sure, he was beating his chest about the accomplishment. Remember, the Lakers failed to even make the playoffs with James last season.
Let’s face it, this is James’ best last chance to win a title in his career. After all, this is year 17. Nobody knows when his talent will fall off but there’s a chance it’s coming sooner than later. Plus, there are a lot of good teams that are in the championship mix in the coming seasons. The Clippers will be together for a few years. The Nets will be a threat with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back in the fold after injuries. Same for the Warriors. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson should get the Warriors back into contention next season when they both return to the game healthy.
Currently, the Lakers are 2-1 odds in Vegas to win the championship. Both the Clippers and Bucks are 3-1. Most sports writers pick the later two to meet in the Finals.
And in case you didn’t hear LeBron loud and clear. He also said he isn’t the biggest fan of the setup in the bubble as far as on the court. “You have to really love basketball to be here,” James told reporters. “Because there’s no extra motivation, you know, as far as that you get or the excitement from the crowd and things of that nature. You have to really love the game and love the work and be able to lock in on your craft and that’s something that I actually love.”
Maybe, it’s his teammates that don’t feel the same way. A perfect excuse.