Plenty of pundits took to the web/airwaves in recent weeks to preach this should have happened sooner, but LeBron James did not want to sit once the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs back on March 22.
He knows fans pay to see him and he doesn’t want to disappoint. He said he wanted to compete, not rest. Plus, while he didn’t say it, he is still working to form a bond with Lakers fans, who have not embraced him as fans did in Cleveland (next to his home town of Akron) or Miami. At least not yet. Playing helped with that.
But it’s happening now, LeBron is being sat for the remainder of the season, six games.
Here’s the statement from team president Magic Johnson and general manager, Rob Pelinka.
“After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season. This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers.”
LeBron finishes the season having played 55 games (a career low) and averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. His runs of eight consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and 13 straight playoff appearances are dead.
LeBron never seemed fully recovered from the groin injury that sidelined him 17 games starting after Christmas. He had stretches of vintage LeBron, but didn’t have the same explosion or ability to lift a team up and carry it as we had seen in season’s past. He’s also 34 years old now. On top of all that were questions of how well he connected with this young team, and how he didn’t seem happy with the team’s roster construction.
The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season and will head into the summer with an organizational priority of finding another star to go next to LeBron.
What does this mean to the Lakers on the court for the next six games? It’s not good. The stats here are a little dated but the idea holds.