How much pressure? Lebron James and the LA Lakers.
Lebron James may be a beast in the East. But out West he’s just one of the rest. In the NBA’s Eastern conference, 45 wins will have you fighting for a 5th/6th seed. In the West …you’ll need to make plans for the rest of your Spring, because you’ll miss the playoffs entirely. I’ve long said that Lebron would avoid even GOING to the West (outside of Joining the Warriors or Spurs, etc) simply because it’s too hard to win out there. But I think his post basketball plans and LA exposure, etc..had something to do with him proving me wrong. Be that as it may, he is out West. He is a Laker.
Its July 2. 2018. NBA free agency is swirling. And then, the Mic drops. Lebron James signs a 4 year/153.3 million dollar deal with the Lakers. The Lakers announce they are resigning Caldwell-Pope and bringing in Lance Stevenson. As free agent signings are announced…all the news is big news. The oddsmakers in Vegas are like the stock market…they set the trend based on news. Favorites to win the NBA Title…Warriors -110. Boston 7-2, Lakers 7-2….Tied for 2nd best odds to win it all. Some people bought into those odds..others had some serious doubts. I mentioned remembering that somewhere persons where saying the Lakers could make a run, on the show this week..and I got mowed down. Well I present this as exhibit A. (PLUG! Check out the Defylife Podcast Show). So..I’ll say that maybe expectations were ranged..from Tempered to High in some realms. https://ftw-usatoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/ftw.usatoday.com/2018/07/betting-odds-for-2019-nba-champion-lebron-lakers-cavaliers/amp?amp_js_v=a2&_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQCCAE%3D#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s&share=https%3A%2F%2Fftw.usatoday.com%2F2018%2F07%2Fbetting-odds-for-2019-nba-champion-lebron-lakers-cavaliers
The 2018 NBA season starts with Lakers going 2-5. Not too impressive, but with Veterans like James and Rondo..I don’t think there was any panic in that locker room. They seemed to have corrected the ship winning 7 of the next 10..and going 15-5 overall during that timeframe. They roared into a Christmas Day matchup with the Champs..and HANDLED THEM. The Lakers ended that game with a 20-14 record . Just 2.5 games behind the Warriors in the standings (also just 2.5 games out of first in the WEST). And yes…once more I say. Lakers, Lakers fans, and the sports world was beginning to believe.The Naysayers stopped saying Nay. And the outlook was a good one. That is also the game were Lebron James was injured…and for the first time in his career, he would miss extended time. The Lakers would go 6- 11 for the next 17 games that Lebron would miss. That’s a tough stretch. But there was still hope..because you still have Lebron. Lebron would return to a 26-25 Lakers team. Good enough to play in the Allstar game…and get his team ready for a playoff run, which I fully expected him to do.
The LA Lakers now sit at 30-36. A LONG way away from those 7-2 odds, having lost 8 of the last 10. Only the Dallas Mavericks have been worse in the NBA over the same stretch. The Naysayers are back. Saying.. I told you so. The Lebron Army of defenders are out ready to joust for their king. The memes are on fire. Lakers fans are in shock. Kobe fans chant “we want Kobe” in Staples. Social media is in a frenzy. Lebron isn’t playing defense. Did he quit on his team? Did his team quit on him? How impactful were the Davis trade talks? Lakers Nation isn’t Miami or Cleveland..they can and will be brutal. And they expect greatness. This is why I believe the most pressure is on Lebron to Win. And NOT dudes like Kyrie and Khawi. Etc. Without Kyrie, Boston is still a very good playoff team with a chance to still win it all. He’s under the last year of his deal. He didn’t just sign there..he’s under no pressure. If he doesn’t get it done, he just goes away at the end of the season. Or he re-signs to take another shot. But his pressure is nothing compared to what Lebron is seeing in LA. Every outlet now. The Lakers and Lebron are the story. Not Kyrie in Boston. The entire young core of that team, now on the injured list. Ingram and Ball…out the rest of the season. Kuzma, out. So now, things are on Lebron. Will he step up or shut it down? We will see…but he is definitely under a mountain of pressure.