LeBron’s legacy taking a beating
March 07, 2019 7:00 AM
by Alan Berg
As you may or may not know, the NBA has become my favorite Big 4 sport to watch.
Part of that has been the appeal of nightly highlights and hot takes on #NBATwitter. Add that to the most intriguing thing about the NBA is the constant flow of drama on a nightly basis. Nothing has garnered as much ink as the Anthony Davis-Los Angeles Lakers trade saga.
When the trade deadline came and went, maybe we all underestimated how lost this Lakers team was after failing to acquire Davis. The SuperBook at the Westgate put up a line on the Los Angeles Lakers to make the playoffs, Yes -110, No -110 around a week after the deadline. This seemed like an appropriate line at the time, considering how could there be a NBA Playoffs without LeBron James?
In hindsight, maybe we didn’t see the repercussions how “general manager” LeBron James did everything in his and the Lakers power to acquire the franchise player in Davis that the team needs to have a shot at toppling the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers floated out their final offer of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, and two first-round picks to the Pelicans for Davis.
New Orleans said thanks but no thanks, not taking this deal due to a better trade market in the summer and not wanting to cave to Davis and his agent’s request of heading to L.A.
Maybe the kids (all 23 or younger) of the Lakers — Ball, Kuzma, Ingram, Hart, and Zubac (traded to Clippers) — aren’t really all that interested in playing alongside King James after his willingness to give them all away for one guy.
Asking a young coach like Luke Walton to try and hold this team together after the team tried giving all of them away was an impossible task. LeBron’s frustration reached its apex with Walton and the players when he showed terrible leadership turning his back to the huddle while Walton addressed the team against the Pelicans back on February 27. Despite this moment, the Lakers would win the game. The following day, the Lakers were only -180 to miss the playoffs. That was a true bargain and by March 2 it was -900.
On Monday, the Clippers, of all teams, handed the Lakers a loss that likely was the first nail in the proverbial coffin. LeBron’s squad is now 5.5 games behind the Spurs for the eighth and final playoff spot out West and have dropped to No. 27 in the league defensively. Defense has a ton to do with effort, but fairly a solid amount of the decline can be attributed to the trade of Zubac and the injury to Ball.
The Lakers to make the playoffs is now off the board and here are the remaining games: Nuggets, Celtics, at Bulls, at Raptors, at Pistons, at Knicks, at Bucks, Nets, Kings, Wizards, at Jazz, Hornets, at Pelicans, at Thunder, Warriors, at Clippers, Jazz and Blazers. That makes 13 of 18 playoff teams at a minimum not counting the contending Kings and Hornets.
King James has quite a task in front of him and by turning his back on his huddle he likely just turned the page to next season with a new coach and new roster. Long term it will likely work out for LeBron and the Lakers but he did no favors to his legacy in 2018-19.
At Gaming Today we are dedicated to providing valuable up-to-date information on the casino industry and pari-mutuel race wagering. With news and features, plus expanded coverage in key areas – race and sports analysis, picks, tips, and handicapping.