This article contains opinion.
So you’re telling me that LeBron James, who’s been to eight straight finals, isn’t going to be in the playoffs?
Yes, for the first time since his second season, he’ll be watching the NBA playoffs from the couch.
Now some may think that this is a hot take. The Lakers were a morbid run franchise with a below .500 record before LeBron even signed.
With the arrival of this superstar talent, many had the Lakers making the playoffs. This didn’t seem too unlikely because of their 35-47 record in the 2017-18 season. These playoff expectations are to be expected, especially when James willed an inferior Cavaliers squad to an NBA Finals the year prior.
Sadly, the story of this year for LA has been one of disappointment. It is currently sitting 11th in the West, with a 35-47 record. It is astounding to think that a team adding LeBron James would not improve its record at all from the previous year.
Many attribute the Lakers’ lack-luster record to James’ injury he suffered halfway through the season playing the Warriors. James endured a groin pull that made him miss 17 games. Fans and experts at the time credited the Lakers struggles to this major injury.
When James suffered the injury, Los Angeles sat at a comfortable fourth place in the Western Conference. After 17 games, James would return to the Lakers, who had a 26-25 record. The expectations were that LeBron would just turn it up and will the Lakers to a playoff spot.
However, this could not have been any farther from the truth.
LeBron is no doubt a top-10, all-time player in NBA history. By no means is this article trying to blame the Lakers’ lack of success on LeBron’s injury. James spends more than $1 million a year on his body. If he has an injury, it’s probably serious.
The Lakers’ season was a failure because of James’ incessant need to create super teams.
The Lakers’ season was far from a failure when LeBron came back. They were still in the playoff race and could have easily seated themselves in the upper-echelon of the Western Conference.
Los Angeles, led by general manager Magic Johnson, attempted to compensate James’ need for another superstar, clambering to trade for star forward Anthony Davis.
Davis made his intentions of wanting to play for LA very clear one week before the trade deadline; however, the Pelicans were unwilling to send him to help a conference opponent.
Reports said that the Lakers were willing to trade any asset other than LeBron. Sadly, the trade did not go through for the Lakers. Little did they know that this would have serious implications on the outcome of their season.
With a locker room of now disgruntled players, the Lakers could not seem to get any momentum going. Their team appeared distracted from the game. Rightfully so; it must have been difficult to play with someone who wanted to trade you away and didn’t value your talent.
LeBron seemed to inflame the situation with his comments to the media stating, “This is the wrong franchise for distracted players.”
This comment seems ironic since the man giving it caused the distraction. James’ ineptitude cost the Lakers a playoff position this season. His ridiculous need to play with another superstar made James neglectful of the talent he already had, which had success in the early part of the season.
LeBron destroyed the chemistry in the LA locker room and has kept the most historic franchise in the NBA from having a chance at making the playoffs.