Lebron James is a Los Angeles Laker—an outcome I knew was coming but still can’t fathom that we’re here. The player who is widely considered the best in the world has joined one of, if not THE, most glamorous organization in the NBA. If you remember in a previous post, I said Lebron should come to LA, simply because there’s so much to gain from this move. Lebron can add to his already impressive resume by taking this Laker team, who haven’t even sniffed the playoffs in the last few years, to their 17th championship. Lebron would be the first superstar to lead three organizations to a championship. In a weird twist of fate, Lebron will also more than likely pass Kobe Bryant in scoring during his tenure as a Laker. As a Lakers fan, I’m excited for the future and the success that Lebron can bring the team.
I want to take this time to address some of the pitfalls that come with having Lebron James on your team. I am a noted Lebron critique artist—giving him the praise he deserves but also calling him out when it seems like no one else does. Whether it’s his effort at times, his ability to control narratives or his crazed fanbase, there are some things that Lebron brings that I’m not exactly excited about.
1. Lebron is a great defender…
…when he is motivated. As much as we love the chase down blocks, Lebron isn’t the defensive ace that he has been made out to be. He didn’t make his first All-Defensive team until 2009 and hasn’t made one since 2014. Now, I’m not suggesting that Lebron plays defense like James Harden (that would be saying he doesn’t) but Lebron has taken his foot off the gas considerably over the years. There were plenty of instances last year where Lebron allowed his man to go right by him, got backdoored, or, worse, just gave up on a play and didn’t get back. And I know what you’re thinking: “he’s saving his energy fo the playoffs.” That would mean a lot to me if Lebron wasn’t also the best player on the team. When you’re the best player on a team, typically the rest of the team follows their lead. So if you’re playing bad defense in the regular season, it’s likely to carry over in the playoffs. Or did we quickly forget how bad the Cleveland Cavaliers defense was?
Lebron has a habit of trying of controlling the narrative (if I can borrow Stephen A. Smith’s phrase). Last year after Lebron won the Eastern Conference Finals, when they asked him about facing the Warriors, he said he didn’t even want to think about it. Huh? You don’t want to think about the Finals? It screams of conceding before even playing the first game. This year, he didn’t repeat that concession but on the eve of getting swept by the Warriors, he lamented that his opponents had better teammates, better playmakers, better players than his own team. And you know what? He was right. But you don’t want to hear that from your best player, down 3-0, when you’re attempting to climb out of a hole and get that first win. Excuses are for losers and the Lakers are about championships. Something must give.
3. Lebron fans…stans…let’s talk
I don’t know care about your stints in Cleveland and your stint in Miami, but in Laker Land, we don’t find consolation in stats. We don’t care about averaging a triple double in losses. We don’t care about breaking records. We care about banners. I know y’all like to think that Lebron can do no wrong and that everything is his teammates fault, but that's not a plausible conversation anymore. If Lebron isn’t playing up to standards, there is no room for excuses. We have to hold him to the standard as an all-time great. Scrutiny is part of the game and no superstar has ever been above it. I get it...he’s your favorite player but that shouldn’t put him above getting criticized.
Lastly, if Lakers fans (and by extension, Kobe fans) and Lebron fans are going to coexist, for the love of all things purple and gold, the constant denouncing of Kobe’s legacy has to stop. Like Chymere mentioned in her last post, there is only a pseudo rivalry that exist between the two. Just like Lakers fans being upset that Lebron is on the team is dumb, Lebron fans consistently knocking down Kobe’s legacy to somehow improve Lebron’s has to end now, at least for the next four years.
The Lakers have Lebron fo the next four years and that’s it. Let’s be honest, the man is smart. Within the next four years, Adam Silver will revoke the “one and done” rule, opening the door for a certain star player’s son to enter the league sooner rather than later. And wherever that kid goes, you better believe that his father will sign with that team. So while we have Lebron for the next four years, I want to make sure that we, both Lakers fans and Lebron fans, can coincide long enough to see Staples Center raise a banner (or two) again.