Image via Amico Hoops
So yeah, the Los Angeles Lakers… The “legendary franchise”… After five straight years of non-playoff appearances, it may have so seemed like the team was on their way back to the playoffs after signing arguably the greatest player of all time. The city was buzzing, fans were excited, media going crazy, and the whole league was preparing for the Lakers to be back in the playoffs.
But boy did that take a turn straight into a wall…
On December 25, 2018, Christmas Day, the Lakers were to go against the almighty, Golden State Warriors. Coming in with a record of 19-14, the Lakers were playing up to expectations, at least record wise. The team was fully healthy, other than JaVale McGee who was out with pneumonia. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch the game at the dentist in a totally different country because I was spending Christmas in the Philippines. At the dentist, I was ecstatic. Why? The Warriors were losing to the Lakers. Going into the game, the Warriors were the obvious favorite. A team with five all-stars should always be the favorite. The Lakers finished off Christmas Day with a win over the defending champs and what may have seemed like the highest point of the season and only about to get better.
But one thing happened during the game, may have changed the season. And it did.
LeBron James, in the third quarter felt a “pop” in his groin, thus leading him to not return to the game. This injury forced LeBron to sit out until January 31st vs the Clippers.
In between that Christmas Day game and the Clippers game, the team had to re-adjust back to playing without Lebron, leading to different styles of play. The Lakers went 6-12 without Lebron which is honestly respectable. They were able to stay afloat while Lebron was out and that’s all a Laker fan could possibly ask for. However, some losses were questionable against teams like the Knicks and Cavaliers. Those are the wins where you HAVE to take care of business.
Also during that time, fellow Klutch Sports client publicly makes a trade request and it is no secret he wanted to be a Laker. Making this request public, the Lakers immediately inquired to the point, where they offered half the team. I mean, let’s be real, I would’ve traded for Anthony Davis as well, But at the price they offered? No way… Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma were all involved in the trade rumors. Obviously, you’d expect them to fold. Well, the trade didn’t happen and now the team is stuck with players that were in these rumors.
Fast forward to now, injuries have plagued the team, veterans who were labeled as leaders aren’t playing up to par, the team is looking far from the eight spot in the standings, but the young core of the Lakers are the ones keeping this team watchable at least.
There is no doubt, that the organization did not expect this to happen. I didn’t either. I may have not expected a championship this year, but I thought making the playoffs with Lebron was going to be a no brainer. There are many to blame here. The front office, the coaching, the veterans, the injuries, unrealistic expectations for the players and the team. The list goes on.
For me personally, I will throw this season in the trash when they play the last game vs the Blazers. Look forward to the lottery, the draft, and the free agency period. Lots of reason for optimism, but many reasons for there to be change around the organization.