He was the youngest player to score 1k points. Now he’s the oldest player to score 36 k points. But no matter the age, it’s always the same business for LeBron James. Well, at least according to the self-appointed King.
But is that a fair comparison? You won’t hear any argument that LeBron is not carrying the organization on his 37-year old back with this presently constructed Lakers team. Because like most of L.A, its basketball team is designed like a weekly soap opera. Davis’ flakiness keeps the audience on edge, Westbrook’s inconsistency keeps it fresh, but it’s LeBron’s name value and performance that keeps us returning.
LeBron is responsible for the L.A mess
But unlike when LeBron was 18, the fallen franchise in need of a savior only has one person to blame - LeBron Raymone James Sr., a.k.a. LeGM. We’ve seen the same story in nearly every DC and Marvel film but never learned. A by-product of having great powers in some champion of salvation quest eventually leads to an equal creation of the destruction they aim to combat.
The controlling owner of the Lakers, Jeanie Buss, handed LeBron the unofficial name plack of the general manager because of how great LeBron is as a player. Now the Lakers have the oldest team in the league, the most unmoveable contract in the league, and one of the worst defensive arrangements of players in The Association. Has LeBron done anything to prove he would succeed in this role? Of course not.
Do people seriously think LeGM is a master of building teams because he joined Miami Heat with Wade and Bosh? Or that he recognized Irving’s talent and tried to follow the same Bosh-esk formula with Kevin Love? Maybe it’s because he predicted that pairing up with a 25-year old Anthony Davis would be championship-worthy? It gets a little ridiculous at one point.
The truth is that LeBron joins extraordinary situations through common sense, wins the championship the following season, then when it’s time for LeBron to make the proceeding lineup choices - bombs. Like the first Cleveland run and Pat Riley’s Heat, LeBron was given little power. But they still fell apart after his departure because the ‘11 Cavaliers were only built and accustomed around maximizing LeBron’s talents without any other offensive identity. And face it, the ‘15 Heat were just old.
But when analyzing a team like the ‘18 Cavaliers or present-day ‘22 Lakers, who still have LeBron behind the wheel and in front, they must go down as two of the poorest orchestrated squads in NBA history. LeBron’s supporting cast in ‘18 had made a combined 23 All-Star appearances but was all past their prime. Kind of like the Lakers team of today?
Unlike teenager LeBron, the mess around him was on him.
The Cavaliers were just bad. Really bad.
Yeh, the Lakers might have 1-2 bad seasons under their belt, but those Cleveland teams that the 18-year old LeBron found himself on were beyond saveable. Evidenced by having an all-time top 5 player by anyone's calculation in his athletic prime and only making one Finals trip in 7 years.
The best player the Cavaliers traded for during LeBron’s first tenure? Mo Williams. Either him or a washed-up Ben Wallace or washed-up Shaquille O’Neal. You take your choice.
Sidenote: Trading for Shaquille O’Neal was one of LeBron’s first, ‘I’m saying who we trade for because I will leave if not’ moments. Didn’t really work out however. It turns out Shaq was past his prime by a wide margin. I’m starting to see a pattern here.
LeBron may have carried franchises like the incompetent Cavaliers and fundamentally broken Los Angeles Lakers, but only one of those turned disappointing periods was without fault of LeBron. Guess then we can't blame him for not knowing how to make great teams.