LeBron James is not downplaying how difficult the current season has been for him and the Los Angeles Lakers. Entering the new campaign, the Lakers were one of a handful of squads considered title contenders, but have started sluggishly at 11-11, sitting eighth in the Western Conference. The season immediately got off to a rough start as several key role players went down with injuries, and James himself missed 11 games, eight of which were due to an abdominal injury.
After beating the Detroit Pistons on Sunday in a rematch of a highly talked about game which resulted in a one-game suspension for James, the four-time NBA champion explained how this season has been one of the most difficult of his career.
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“[This season] ranks right at the top of any other challenge I’ve had in my career, which actually brings out the best in me and I love that,” James said. “I love trying to figure out how we can be better, get through the mud, get through the adversity, and just making it sweeter on the back end. I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface on what team we can be. We’re gonna continue to get better and better as we continue to learn each other more and more, continuing to work into our system offensively and defensively.”
The season is still young, and the Lakers certainly haven’t played their best basketball by a mile, so it’s not surprising to hear James speak about how difficult it’s been this year given the amount of injuries the Lakers have dealt with. However, when you consider the number of challenges LeBron has faced throughout his career — coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals and winning a championship with the Lakers during the Orlando bubble just to name a couple — it is a bit jarring to see him put this season up with those other tall tasks.
However, with the mediocre start the Lakers have had, if LeBron can lead this team to a deep playoff run — or even better a championship — it will surely be considered one of his greatest accomplishments after struggling with injuries, being bounced in the first round of the postseason last year and dealing with a roster that isn’t best suited to his his abilities. We’ll have to wait and see if L.A. can turn this ship around and play like the championship-contending team many expected it to be. Still, it’s clear the motivation is there as James noted he thrives when his back is against the wall.