The Los Angeles Lakers dropped the third straight game last night, losing 121-114 against the Raptors in a game that was pretty out-of-hand early on in the second half. The return of LeBron James hasn’t helped the Lakers get back to their winning ways, as he and Anthony Davis have had issues getting back to their normal selves to get the team ready for the playoffs. LeBron was taken out at some point in the second half due to some soreness in his ankle, with Frank Vogel deciding to keep him out of the rest of the game. It remains to be seen whether the decision was out of real concern, or if it was due to the score of the game at that time.
LeBron stated that he will see how he feels today and go from there in terms of his availability for the game tonight against the Nuggets, but he also commented on the Lakers’ current place in the standings and how that 7th-through-10th-seed-play-in-tournament is starting to look like a reality for the purple-and-gold.
LeBron did not mince words (per Dave McMenamin/ESPN):
LeBron James on the play-in tournament: "Whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 3, 2021
Here is LeBron’s quote that preluded the fiery quote above (per the below video from Spectrum SportsNet):
“It doesn’t matter at the end of the day if I’m not 100%, close to 100%, it doesn’t matter where we land. That’s my mindset. If we end up at 6th, or 5th, or whatever the case may be, or we end up in the playoff or…”
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) May 3, 2021
That quote is cut off by what may have been some censorship from Spectrum SportsNet as he gets into his quote that included the expletive.
LeBron basically says the pessimistic version of a narrative that many Lakers journalists and fans have said throughout the back half of this season. If LeBron James is healthy, the Lakers can probably beat anyone. If he’s not, well, they could probably lose to anyone. This is the harsh reality of building a team around LeBron and the massive contract that he deserves.
As for the team’s health, LeBron acknowledges this but this is a harsh reality that nearly every team in the NBA has had to face this season. The Miami Heat had the early part of their season derailed by injuries and Jimmy Butler being put on COVID-19 protocols. The Boston Celtics saw Jayson Tatum have the same thing happen to him, with Tatum still feeling the effects of COVID-19 on his body. The Denver Nuggets just lost Jamal Murray to a torn ACL that may have been a result of the short turnaround from the Nuggets’ Western Conference Finals loss to the start of this 2020-21 season.
Every team in the Association has been hit on the injury report with the terrible structure of this season. It rings shallow for LeBron to bring this up now — an extremely convenient time for the excuses to start coming out.