The Los Angeles Lakers officially advanced to the second round last night, beating the Trail Blazers 131-122 in Game 5 of their first-round series. It was a joyful moment for the Lakers, their first playoff series win since 2012, but the moment didn’t feel as happy as you’d expect a “gentleman’s sweep” to be for a 1st-seed. That was due to the last few days in the NBA world, starting with the Milwaukee Bucks’ boycott on Wednesday of their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. That decision set forth plenty of meetings between players, coaches, and team governors, including a meeting that LeBron James walked out of Wednesday evening due to being frustrated with the entire situation.
LeBron James was asked last night about the potential of leaving the bubble, saying the following with a sarcastic laugh during it (transcribed by Lauren Jones of The LA Sentinel, with video from Kyle Goon of the OC Register):
“I don’t think there is one person that hasn’t had on their mind to get out of [the bubble], even you guys. It probably crosses my mind once a day, for sure.”
In his other time with reporters last night, LeBron also briefly spoke about how he was not judging the Bucks’ decision to boycott the game, but emphasized how he is not one to do things without a plan (discussed in this video from Kyle Goon/OC Register). LeBron has now emphasized his comments on the lack of a plan as well as almost wanting to leave the bubble, saying the following to Joe Vardon and The Athletic (Warning: profanity):
(Discussing Wednesday night)
“When I went to bed, I had major reservations about playing,” LeBron told The Athletic. “It wasn’t what they (the Milwaukee Bucks) said; we heard what they said. It was, What the fuck are we going to do now? Are we just going to go back out there and play again, after all of this, with no plan? Nah. What was the plan?
“I woke up Thursday morning and I came up with a plan,” he said.
Those words are very passionate from LeBron James, as it’s very apparent that LeBron showed emotion Wednesday evening behind the closed doors of those meetings. LeBron confirmed all the reports that came out from Wednesday to Joe Vardon and The Athletic, including the meeting with Barack Obama and the Lakers and Clippers’ brief decision to not return to the season, even leaving the contentious meeting that was going on.
The plan that LeBron is referencing is the joint statement from the NBA and the NBPA, that set forth a plan to create social justice coalitions on each team throughout the NBA as well as turning each NBA arena into a polling place for America’s general election in November.
We’ll see if the players feel that plan is enough moving forward, as the league will still be in the bubble into early October at the earliest.