After a sluggish showing in seeding games, the Los Angeles Lakers successfully managed to switch gears to playoff mode by eliminating the Portland Trail Blazers in five games.
Of course, their journey so far has not come without its fair share of trials and tribulations for the players and staff. Head coach Frank Vogel, Alex Caruso, Danny Green and LeBron James are among those who have discussed an ongoing adjustment to life in the Walt Disney World bubble.
The prolonged hiatus from basketball amounted to one set of challenges for getting back into game shape. Players have also revealed the mental toll of being quarantined away from family and friends has taken.
Green and L.A. Clippers guard Paul George are among those that have attributed their uneven play to the challenges of living in the bubble. It appears not even James was immune to these effects.
“I think I’ve had numerous nights and days where I’ve thought about leaving the bubble,” James admitted after Game 5. “I think everyone has, including you guys. I don’t think there’s one person who has not had a mind that says, ‘I’ve got to get the hell out of here.’
“But it’s not because of what transpired (with the Jacob Blake shooting). It probably crosses my mind once a day.”
James added that the focus remains on using their platform to promote true change off the court. “We came down here for a mission. Yes, basketball was the vehicle, but we have a mission and we want to continue that,” he said.
“We believe that mission was kind of lost in translation, especially once the playoffs started. We were playing every other day, and there was a game on every single day. From a fans perspective and for a basketball junkie, it’s the best thing you can ever ask. It was basketball games over and over and over and over. When you’re trying to create change, you can’t lose sight of what the main thing is. Yes, we’ve been using our voice. Yes, we’ve been using our platform in trying to create change.
“But there’s an opportunity sometimes to take a deep breath. That was the moment, and from a whole league — players, coaches, owners, you guys — everyone got an opportunity just to exhale and say, ‘What are we really doing? Are we really trying to create change and have action?’ That gave us an opportunity to do that.”
James’ comments are indicative of the kind of circumstances players have been dealt since deciding to move forward with the regular season and then the playoffs that were briefly brought to a halt following the shooting of Blake.
Despite being in the midst of a potential championship run, the Lakers were fully prepared to opt out of playing had the NBA not determined a course of action to assist with the players’ efforts.
LeBron stresses importance of solidifying a plan of action
The Milwaukee Bucks led the charge with their decision to not play Game 5 against the Orlando Magic as scheduled since Blake’s shooting took place. Although ensuing playoff games were also cancelled, initial reports suggested that James and other teams were disgruntled with the Bucks’ lack of communication.
James has since clarified his only issue with how the Bucks went about it.
“From that point on, my mind began to figure out what is the plan going forward? And if we don’t have a plan, then what are we talking about?” he said.
“Why are we still here? That’s what my mind went to. At one point there was no plan of action. I’m not that type of guy. I’m not a guy who, one, doesn’t have a plan, and then not ready to act on it as far as action. We had a couple days to figure it out.”
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