Tuesday, June 25, 2024

LeBron James apologizes for disappointing Lakers season: ‘I promise we’ll be better’

LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers
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LeBron James has set expectations for his teams so high that they are practically unrealistic. Prior to last season, he reached the NBA Finals in nine out of 10 seasons. The lone miss was the result of an injury, and his teams won four championships in that span. The acquisition of Russell Westbrook made a fifth title appear entirely attainable on paper.

In reality, it has never looked further away. The Lakers are 21-22 through 43 games. Aside from his rookie season and that injury-riddled 2018-19 campaign, no James team has ever been below .500 this late in a season. Westbrook, whom James lobbied the Lakers to acquire behind the scenes, has been a disaster. He is shooting below 30 percent from the field over his past five games, continues to put forth unacceptable effort on defense and will seemingly never stop taking low-percentage shots. Anthony Davis may be out, but at this point, it doesn’t appear as though any single player will be enough to fix what’s wrong with this roster. 

On Sunday, less than 24 hours after a humiliating 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets, James took an unusual step. “Laker Nation I apologize and I promise we’ll be better,” James wrote on Twitter. The move is unusual because James hardly ever needs to apologize. His teams are almost always excellent and his performance is never at fault when it isn’t. That has been the case this season as well. He is averaging 28.9 points per game, the fourth-most of his career, to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists. If the Lakers had a better record, he would likely be in the MVP discussion.

But they don’t largely due to a poorly constructed roster around him. Westbrook has been a disappointment, and because of his exorbitant salary, the Lakers have devoted all but four other spots on their roster to players making the minimum salary. James might not be at fault for the play on the court, but he deserves a fair bit of blame for how the roster was assembled off of it.

Of course, that’s not what he’s apologizing for. He’s apologizing for losses. The sad truth is that those probably aren’t going anywhere. The Lakers have the NBA‘s hardest remaining schedule. They have 23 remaining road games compared to just 16 at home. There’s no telling how effective Davis will be when he returns. An apology for how the Lakers have played is certainly welcome, but it might have been premature. There’s a good chance that things can still get worse from here.

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