I have waited to write this until it was official. And as of last week, the Los Angeles Lakers, and LeBron James will not be in the NBA playoffs this year. I have a ton of feelings about this news.
First of, the hater in me is thrilled. I have never liked the Lakers. I actively root against them. Ever since they picked Kobe over Shaq, my hatred only grew. I despise the Celtics as well, but you better believe that I was pulling for them when they played each other in the Finals in the early 2000's. I don't like their fair weather fans. I don't like the air of arrogance they have. They have been irrelevant for about 5 or 6 seasons now. They traded away a lottery pick point guard, D'Angelo Russell, to take Lonzo Ball, who is a bust. I am just almost overcome with joy that they will not be in the playoffs this year. This also makes me laugh at all the journalists, especially the ones at ESPN and Bleacher Report and The Ringer that were certain they'd not only be a playoff team, but a top 3 or 4 seed. This includes me as well. I had them as a top 10 team in my preseason countdown. But, to hear all these major journalist back track now is delightful. To hear all their excuses makes me crack up.
I admit, I was very wrong. I thought LeBron himself would push this team to the playoffs. He could not. But these other journalist keep making excuses to try and save face. They say, LeBron missed 20 games. So what. He has done that the past couple year, his week or 2 off to Miami, and was still able to walk his way to the Finals in the East. They bring up injuries to Ball and Brandon Ingram. Ingram got hurt pretty much right after they were eliminated. And, as I already said, Ball is a bust. The journalists loved all their one year contract guys. They thought giving Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasely one year, "prove it" deals, would make this team solid. Well, none of those guys can shoot. Rondo is so much better at facilitating offense. He's better at drive and kick. That doesn't work with LeBron. Michael Beasely is an even bigger bust than Ball, can't shoot from anywhere, doesn't play defense, and isn't even on the team anymore. Lance Stephenson was a half season wonder that is somehow still getting playing time in the NBA. He's trash. JaVale McGee only works as a spark plug off the bench. The Lakers signed him to be their main pick and roll guy. It was all a mess from the jump. When they signed LeBron this past offseason it was huge. Then, the front office went and did all this ridiculous stuff to squash any good will they received by getting LeBron. They surrounded him with vets he likes, but as I said, none of them can shoot. I mean, they are awful, dreadful shooters. And for the young guys on the team already, Ingram is the only one that is a threat to shoot, and he played better when LeBron was injured.
Then we had the whole Anthony Davis thing. Rich Paul screwed over one of his clients by making Davis' trade request public, then it all blew up in his face, Davis' face and LeBron's face. The Pelicans asked for the world, with the Lakers putting up Ball, Ingram, Josh Hart, Lance Stephenson and multiple picks, and they still asked for more. They played the hell out of the Lakers, Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, Rich Paul and LeBron. Of course the Pelicans turned the offer down, and that was when the season really cratered for the Lakers. After the All Star break, and LeBron "activating playoff mode", the Lakers went into the tank. They couldn't do anything right. They lost to the Pelicans when they rested Davis. They barely beat them, at home when Davis played about 20 minutes. They got crushed by real Western Conference playoff teams. Then they got roasted by the Suns. That game culminated in disgrace when LeBron went to throw the ball in and he hit the back of the backboard. It was very upsetting to see him, a legend, do that. The Davis thing really screwed with this locker room, and with any chemistry they may have built up in the first part of the year. LeBron said he wanted to grow with this team when he signed, but the moment things started to get rough, he wanted to team up with a super star. It didn't pan out for him, and now he will be home for the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
Which lead me to my final thing, LeBron James. LeBron is an all time great. He is either the second or third greatest player of all time. Going to 8 straight Finals may never happen again. His dominance is almost un reachable for any future star player. But, he really screwed this team with his want to team up with another star. He also learned what it is like to play in the Varsity conference in the NBA. It isn't a cakewalk in the West. Almost every night is a tough game. He can't just take time off when he pleases. He needs to bring it, especially with the way that roster was constructed. I'm still in shock that he couldn't will this team to the playoffs, but like I said at the top, it also kind of makes me laugh because I loathe that team.
All of this is to say, I feel, and I know a lot of people agree with me, the Lakers are, by far, the biggest embarrassment and were the most overrated team in the NBA in the 2018-19 season. They tanked without tanking. They're going to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year. They are still irrelevant. They are banking on getting Davis in the offseason, I don't think it will happen. And LeBron is only getting older. If I were a Lakers fan, I would be very concerned about the future of this team. They don't seem to be the destination they once were, and a lot of the star players coming on the market this summer don't seem very interested in teaming up with a 35 year old LeBron James. Also, if they hire Jason Kidd I would be even more embarrassed to be a fan.
This season has been a mess in Laker land. They can make up for it if they have a big summer, but I don't see that happening. This is a mess, and I only feel like it is going to get worse. This is a bummer to see LeBron end his career like this. A real bummer.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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