The NBA 2021-2022 season hasn’t turned out very great for the LeBron James led Los Angeles Lakers. The Wednesday night game against Minnesota Timberwolves registers another disappointing loss to the losing spree of the Lakers Roster with 124-104.
The Lakers fell to a bare 5-16 in the last 21 matches and the fans are talking about LeBron’s magic fading. The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t let go of the lead throughout the match. Although scoring a total of more than 100 points in the last 3 matches, LeBron struggled to keep up with the points table.
The early push for the Timberwolves was led by Anthony Edwards who scored 20 of his 27 points in the 2nd quarter. At a point in the game, it seemed that the Lakers would somehow manage to take the lead when they reduced the 25 point gap to a bare 4 points in the 4th quarter. But, Karl-Anthony Towns steered the game right into the Wolves’ control by scoring 16 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter.
The game turned into a pretty heated encounter, with trash talking and sarcastic gestures to demoralize the opponents. When Russell Westbrook hit an airball on a 3-pointer with 3:58 left in the game and Minnesota led 111-94, Towns walked over to the baseline, where the ball bounced away and mockingly pretended to look for it while gazing at the crowd.
The Lakers were led by LeBron James, who scored 19 points on 8-for-21 shooting despite suffering from knee pain. The Lakers have lost 16 of their last 21 games with Anthony Davis out due to a foot injury.
“It’s easy to be comfortable when you’re winning. I’ve never been that guy. It’s all about, ‘How comfortable can you be when things become uncomfortable?’ I’m OK with that, too,” James said. “It’s just testing my patience more than any season in the last few years, just because of the way we’re playing.”
The Lakers have been hobbling through the second half of the season with Anthony Davis out for the 11th straight game due to a foot injury. After missing the previous game due to family obligations, Dwight Howard returned to the starting lineup. In 16 minutes, he only had two points.
The Rise of LeBron James
James graduated from high school as one of the most highly touted NBA prospects in history. As soon as he entered the NBA, he was named “Rookie of The Year” in his first season. James’ four MVP awards make him among the only few players to achieve the feat, including Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell. James and Russel are the only ones to have four MVPs in a 5-year span.
James has also won four Finals MVP Awards, the second-most of any player in NBA history, and has been named to the All-Defensive team every season from 2009 to 2014. His teams have made ten appearances in the Finals and won four championships; his ten Finals appearances are tied for third-most all-time. Some critics have chastised him for not having a better Finals record, while others have maintained that James is a good player who was beaten by the better competition.
Sports organisations have routinely included James in rankings of the top basketball players in history based on his career longevity and on-court performances, and in December 2019, he was voted the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Decade for the 2010s.
James’ teammates have spoken about his effect, including Warriors forward Draymond Green, who said, “We’ve taken control of our destiny. And I think a lot of people hate that … . I think the doors that he’s opened for athletes and especially basketball players is his biggest accomplishment.”
James is also referred to as the greatest basketball player of all time, which has led to comparisons to Michael Jordan. In a 2016 interview with Sports Illustrated, James admitted that surpassing Jordan as the best athlete was his motivation.
LeBron’s Journey with the Los Angeles Lakers
James opted out of his contract with the Cavaliers on June 29, 2018, and became an unrestricted free agent. On July 1st, Klutch Sports, LeBron’s management company announced his signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rich Paul, James’ agent, revealed why in an interview with Sports Illustrated, “In 2010 when he went to Miami, it was about championships. In 2014, when he went back to Cleveland, it was about delivering on a promise. In 2018, it was just about doing what he wants to do.” Reaction to the move was more positive than his original departure from the Cavaliers, albeit still mixed, as some onlookers felt that Los Angeles was not his optimal destination.”
James upon joining the Lakers brought an optimal hope for the team, as the roster had been underperforming for a long term. Lakers missed the playoffs since 2014 and did not appear in the finals since 2010. After James’s addition to the team, the Lakers tried a number of players and veterans to find the best effective lineup for the team’s success but failed repeatedly, losing 5 of their first 7 games.
Lakers started making a considerable comeback in November, which included two of James’ best performances of the season. He had 44 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers on November 14, and he had a season-high 51 points in a win over the Heat four days later. After the smacking victory over the Warriors on Christmas, the Lakers mended their record, making it 20-16, but LeBron suffered the first major injury of his career, due to which he missed 17 consecutive games. LeBron’s absence pushed the team back and they were out of the playoffs.
At this point in the season, no one is surprised if the Lakers lose. They can, and frequently do lose to anyone, unless LeBron puts up with a spectacular effort. They don’t have a solid defence or a consistent offence. And, because they’re the Lakers, with LeBron James, everyone thinks beating them is a badge of honour. They may be the first No. 9 seed with a large target on their back every night.
Despite having LeBron scoring consistently every game, and having possible Hall of Fame players like Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard, The Lakers still are falling down the ranks constantly. Adding salt to the wound, the Lakers currently also seem to stand as an example for the worst team LeBron James ever played for.
Anthony Davis has been injured for a long term now, he hasn’t played the last 11 games and the rest of the Lakers lineup can’t seem to catch up any time soon. LeBron carrying the whole weight of the team is now a common sight. Having scored 30 or more points in around 29 games LeBron’s efforts are the only thing the fans have to appreciate about the Lakers.
The Future of the Lakers and LeBron James
There has been a lot of talk about LeBron’s future with the Lakers roster. The possibilities of LeBron leaving the Lakers and joining another NBA team isn’t a far-sighted thought. The underperformance of the team and the underlying efforts by James can no longer be denied. Having been called the worst team James has ever played with, LA could have to let go of the veteran. The fans and LeBron himself are anticipating his 5th ring and it looks next to impossible with the current scenario.
Unless the team starts putting in a consistent series of spectacular gameplays, the Lakers are not far away from being among the worst teams of the NBA. On the other hand, LeBron James could end up missing tonnes of records and opportunities for his future.