Los Angeles Lakers fans have had enough of their team performing like bums this season. In their embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, a video clip reveals several fans were talking smack to LeBron James, Trevor Ariza, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Purple and Gold crew. The players, harboring their own frustrations, talked back to the fans.
Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma saw the said clip, and he was reminded of his stint there — a stay marked by genuine relief when the Lakers won the title and deep sorrow whenever they lost a game. Kuzma reminded everyone how tough it is to please the Purple and Gold fateful.
Kuzma can now look back at his tenure with the Lakers with a smile on his face. After all, he walked away with one title ring plus loads of basketball knowledge from LeBron James and the coaching staff. He has been applying his knowledge very well.
So far, the 26-year-old is averaging 17.0 points on 45.6% shooting from the field. He also logs in 8.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists, which are career-highs. The Wizards did well in the first 20 games or so of the season. Past the midway mark, the team sports a subpar 27-33 record for 11th in the East. The squad does need a lot of fixing, but given Kuzma's resurgence, there's a lot of hope they'll do well in the future.
Looking back at Kuzma the Laker
Despite the Wizards' struggles amid Kuzma's career year, we can still say that the Michigan native is in a better place now. As mentioned, Kuzma experienced firsthand how difficult it is to be a Laker.
In his first two years donning the legendary Purple and Gold, fans were amazed by how a late first-round pick outperformed Lonzo Ball, a second overall pick poised to become the franchise star. This led to all sorts of discussions on why picking an experienced college player is the right move in the draft. Analysts believed that Kuzma's three years in Utah prepared his mind and body more than enough for the NBA.
However, Kuzma's rise to superstardom was cut short when LeBron James took his talents to Tinseltown. It was not because James hated Kuzma's guts and didn't pass him the ball. It was because of the baggage that James carried with him — his quest to win another title by any means. LeBron knows that he needs to win as many rings as possible to become the GOAT.
While these are goals one should aspire for, this didn't necessarily bode well for a young gun like Kuzma, who was still figuring out his identity as a player. The stats show that Kuzma was worse off with LeBron around. In the 2019-20 NBA season, the year they won the title, Kuzma averaged a career-low 12.8 points per game on 43.6% shooting. Kuzma's averages barely moved in the following season with 12.9 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting. Kuzma himself hinted that James' presence hampered his individual development.
Every time Kuzma churned in a bad game, fans berated him on social media. They tweeted, commented on his Instagram posts, and some even went as far as sending him a direct message. Whenever the Lakers lost, Kuzma trended on social media.
There's no greater feeling in the world than being a Laker — one of the premier sports organizations in history. But Kuzma knows that there's a lot of pressure involved upon donning those legendary Purple and Gold jerseys. Not to mention the fans who can get toxic.