Firstly, he’s arguably one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. There is no need to run down the litany of his stats and records. Anyone who has ever watched the NBA knows he’s one of the best to lace them up. Secondly, there’s his business acumen. Measuring it against other active professional athletes, it’s second to none. There’s SpringHill Company, his media platform, his brand new tequila brand, and even the school he built in his hometown. Anything he touches becomes golden.
And why is that? Well, he’s freaking LeBron James.
Out of the many things that James excels in, they pale compared to one thing. And that’s his narrative-controlling antics. A little over 48 hours ago, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported James’ comments regarding the NBA play-in tournament.
“Whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired,” said James regarding the play-in tournament.
For the unfamiliar, the play-in tournament is a format that impacts the final seeding for the NBA playoffs. And that could spell bad news for his Los Angeles Lakers. Right now, his Lakers are not playing good basketball. They’re 3-7 in their last ten games. And along with that, they’re 0-2 since James returned to the lineup. They currently hold the fifth seed in the West, but who knows for how long.
The Lakers record is 37-28. However, with the Mavericks and Trailblazers on their heels, they could easily find themselves as low as the 7th seed.
And that’s why James is chirping now. Since his fleeting Lakers could potentially face a play-in tournament game, James is against the idea.
Now that’s some irony for you. Why?
Well, James loved the idea last season. After all, his Lakers were at the top of the West. And there was no chance they’d play in it. When COVID-19 took the world by storm last season, the NBA season came to a halt like many other things. The NBA had to shorten its season, and it affected several other teams. One of those teams was the Portland Trailblazers.
They were 3.5 games out of the eighth seed, with the Memphis Grizzlies holding that spot. James campaigned for the Trailblazers to have a chance to earn a spot. He was adamantly against going straight to the postseason.
“One thing you can’t just do is go straight to the playoffs because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position,” said James during an appearance on the Road Trippin’ Podcast in March 2020.
He didn’t stop there either. He doubled down on his opinion.
“You got Portland. You got Memphis…New Orleans and Sacramento tinkering around there…so if there’s five or ten games left…why not [let] those guys battle it out? Make them play each other all five games.”
To James’ credit, it was a great point.
With such a layoff, going straight to the postseason would be a disservice to everyone. At a minimum, there needed to be a play-in due to the circumstances of the shortened season. So again, in that regard, James was right. Despite that, like many others, James loses me on several things.
For starters, the NBA and NBPA agreed on the play-in format last year. With LeBron James being the face of the NBA, he simply speaking could’ve quickly nixed the play-in idea.
Secondly, it’s the timing of his comments. They couldn’t have come at a worse time. If the Lakers were still at the top of the conference, it’s safe to surmise no one would’ve heard from him on this subject. And that’s the biggest issue. It’s once again another self-serving display of the NBA’s “king .”
When it doesn’t affect him, you can’t find the guy anywhere, but he’s the loudest one in the room when it does. LeBron James is an all-time great. No one can deny that.