No, you are not in the twilight zone—that really is LeBron James donning the famous purple and gold.
LeBron James has ruled the NBA’s Eastern Conference with an iron fist for the last decade. After choosing to opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 29, James would head west for the first time in his decorated career.
A young team full of players on their affordable, rookie contracts, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves with the best basketball player in the world on their roster and plenty of money to pay for a free-agent supporting cast.
Being in a loaded conference full of the likes of Golden State, Houston and Oklahoma City, the Lakers front office needed to fill their roster with pieces and assets to contend for a championship either now or in the near future.
And what did the Laker front office do in typical Laker fashion? They blew it.
Instead of aspiring to be like the world-famous “Showtime Lakers” of the 1980s, the juggernaut Miami Heat led by LeBron in the 2010s or even the talented Cleveland Cavalier rosters of recent years, Los Angeles would sign several, aging veterans to one-year contracts.
Where has this happened before?
The very team that drove LeBron to make the most controversial decision of the sports world (his choice to leave Cleveland for Miami in the summer of 2010) was heavily attributed to Cleveland’s front office making extremely poor decisions when it came to surrounding LeBron with an adequate supporting cast capable of winning an NBA championship. Asking any NBA fan, one would be hard-pressed to find an individual who does not agree with the narrative that LeBron “dragged” his lackluster team to championship contention time and time again, only to be met by bitter defeat at the hands of well-rounded, well-coached, well-run organizations.
And now, here we are again. LeBron James is now expected to lead what is dubbed by sports fans as the NBA’s “meme team” featuring:
- Lance Stephenson, a known rival of LeBron who gained infamy for tactics, such as blowing in LeBron’s ear when Stephenson’s Pacers played LeBron’s Heat in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. This, to no one’s surprise, became a viral meme that summer.
- Rajon Rondo, formerly a star in Boston but nowadays better known for being arrogant and selfish by NBA executives, players and coaches.
- Michael Beasley, a wildly inconsistent player who has played for eight different teams in the past 10 years, which is never a good sign. He also has a knack for smoking marijuana before training camps, driving under the influence and other run-ins with law enforcement starting his ROOKIE YEAR—not a good sign, either.
- JaVale McGee, who consistently headlines viral videos for his on-court blunders as a tall, lumbering NBA center in a league phasing out McGee’s archetype.
Brace yourselves, Laker fans; these are the guys LA paid to play alongside for LeBron for the 2018-19 NBA season.
All internet jokes and personality issues aside, LeBron James has a history of performing exceptionally well in the playoffs when surrounded by players who can consistently shoot the ball at a respectable percentage. Due to LeBron’s inherent nature as a leader and facilitator on the court, he is going to have a very tough time with Laker lineups that are young, inexperienced, inconsistent and just flat-out cannot shoot 3-pointers in an evolving NBA, where shooting the long-ball is not only encouraged, but also absolutely necessary.
Sorry, Los Angeles. While LeBron James looks fantastic in a Laker uniform, a season plagued with mediocrity and heartbreak awaits. Better luck next decade.