LeBron James stunned Los Angeles Lakers fans when he hinted at off-court issues disrupting the team’s rhythm in the Orlando bubble. The 16-time All-Star made the remark after L.A. lost their sixth seeding game 105-86 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on another night marred by inconsistency and shooting woes.
James’ cryptic message came as a surprise considering the Lakers’ chemistry has been considered among the best in the league. Yet, the team has looked different during the NBA restart compared to the one that dominated the Western Conference before the four-month hiatus, fueling speculation that locker room issues could be behind their unexpected slump.
“There’s some things that you really can’t control that’s here,” James said two weeks ago. “I really don’t want to talk about, that’s kind of off the floor. You just try to be there for your teammates.”
But when asked about the meaning behind his words during an interview with TNT’s Chris Haynes, the three-time NBA champion claimed Lakers players have never been closer and only said his comments had nothing to do with the team:
“I can just tell you this, it has nothing to do with our team. One thing about our team, we have zero lack of team chemistry and camaraderie. That’s the one thing that our team will always be about. It’s a little bit more intricate than that. I might tell you when the cameras ain’t on. It has nothing to do with the Lakers and our group. Our group has probably been as close as ever before because of the situation, and even more since we’re here. The LakeShow, Lakers Nation, don’t worry about that. It has nothing to do with the ballclub. We’re great.”
It has also been rumored that it is the secluded nature of the Orlando bubble that is affecting the Lakers. James and his teammates have been repeatedly saying they are missing their families and highlighting the NBA restart is a huge challenge on the mental level.
Charles Barkley sees Portland sweeping the Lakers
The Lakers were set back by familiar issues in the Game 1 loss to the Blazers, struggling to convert open looks and maintain consistency throughout the game. And in the eyes of TNT’s analyst Charles Barkley, Portland will take advantage of L.A.’s shortcomings and advance to the next round easily.
Ahead of the first showdown between the Lakers and the Blazers, Barkley made a bold prediction and said Damian Lillard and Co. would sweep their top-seeded rival if they claimed the first game. And after the clash resulted in Portland’s victory, he came out with a broom and started sweeping the floor of TNT’s studio during the postgame show.
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