LeBron James and the Lakers have had a very up and down season and this week has been a microcosm of their season. Los Angeles is currently sitting out of the playoffs and trying to fight its way back into them in a race with the division rival Kings. On Saturday, the Kings had a huge win over the Thunder. The Lakers? They suffered an excruciating loss to a Pelicans team that was resting Anthony Davis — a night after taking down the Rockets.
After the loss, James was asked about where the Lakers are at right now. Coming out of a trade deadline that threatened to have half the team sent away for Davis, there were obvious concerns about the team’s chemistry and focus. James used the opportunity to call out his team, not only whether they’re committed to winning but if basketball as a whole is what they cared about the most right now.
This isn’t the first time James has made comments like this on teams he’s played for. He’s been known for using the media to send messages to teammates about how they need to play harder. He’s even done it through outlets such as Twitter when he sent a not so subtle message to then Cavs teammate Kevin Love.
The irony in James statement though is nobody believes he went to the Lakers solely for basketball reasons. His goal was to play in Los Angeles while growing his off-court businesses and budding entertainment empire. It’s hard to not believe that played a major role in his decision when you consider he opted to not go to teams closer to being title ready. It’s also hard to buy into the idea that his focus is entirely on basketball when earlier in the week James appeared on the cover of an announcement for Space Jam 2, with a release date set for 2021.
James is having a rough season, relative to his greatness over the last decade and a half. He had a groin injury on Christmas that forced him to miss nearly 20 games, is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season, and can’t seem to find a groove with his new teammates. LeBron has always been capable of dominating on the court while expanding his off-court business interests, but it is a bit ironic that in a week that sees him announce a movie release and a new episode of “The Shop” (including Anthony Davis) he calls out his teammates’ focus on basketball.