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The Lakers, LeBron, and the NBA

Brian Taylor

Posted on October 18, 2018 21:07

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Why LeBron didn't need to go to LA and why the NBA doesn't need it either.

The biggest story of last season should have been the Golden State Warriors and their pursuit of a dynasty, or the Houston Rockets shooting their shot and coming oh so close to knocking the Warriors from that perch. Maybe LeBron James trying to win another ring for "The Land." Instead, NBA fans were inundated with the "LeBron Watch." What will LeBron do at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent?

The foregone conclusion according to every hot taker around was that LeBron needed to go to the Lakers and save the NBA's "signature franchise," which had fallen on hard times in the last few seasons. When LeBron did, in fact, sign in LA, the talk all offseason was, again, "Lakers this, LeBron that." Not that the Warriors had somehow made themselves even stronger in signing DaMarcus Cousins, or that Houston now has another weapon in Carmelo Anthony and a healthy Chris Paul again. Boston's injured backcourt is once again healthy and the Sixers are seasoned and energetic. Nope, we get to hear about LeBron playing for another mediocre team. 

The Lakers have traditionally been one of the dominant franchises in the NBA. They've had the players, they've won the rings, they sold tickets, they sold jerseys, their bandwagon fans were everywhere, and traditionally they've moved the needle more than any other team in the league.

In 2013-14, a knee injury limited Kobe Bryant to six games that season, and without their superstar, the Lakers limped to 27 victories. And while Laker haters reveled in how awful they were, they (ok, we) did so because we knew this would likely be a one season aberration and a healthy Kobe would return the Lakers to respectability.

But a funny thing happened. Kobe got old while he was away and was never the same, and the Lakers got even worse, bottoming out at 17 wins in 2015-16. Big name free agents spurned the Lakers overtures and the shine was clearly off the NBA's bell-weather franchise.  

Yet somehow, despite the Lakers struggles, the rest of the league is doing just fine. TV ratings are up, more fans are attending games, overall franchise values have never been higher, and social media is still abuzz about the NBA. 

I get that the league's TV partners want marquee names in big cities, hence the continual "LeBron has to go to the Lakers" narrative, but did he? Seems like the NBA was doing just fine with LeBron in Cleveland. 

Even basketball-wise, this move doesn't make sense. LeBron basically traded one mediocre supporting cast for another, only now he's doing it in the much less forgiving Western Conference and with the pressure of trying to live up to the precedent set by the Lakers legends who came before him. Oh, and he'll have to deal with this guy.

LeBron may be bigger than basketball, but basketball is still bigger than the Lakers, and on the court, may still be bigger than LeBron.

Brian Taylor

Posted on October 18, 2018 21:07

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Source: LA Times
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LeBron James has officially joined the Lakers. The Lakers announced the signing of the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player...

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