Prior to the NBA restart in the Walt Disney World bubble beginning, the last time LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers were on the court included an impressive weekend. A letdown loss to the Brooklyn Nets was preceded by back-to-back wins against the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers.
The Lakers of course have been considered among the championship contenders all season long, but before those two games, they’d lost a prior meeting with Milwaukee, and both matchups with the Clippers.
James was a central figure in both marquee wins, not only orchestrating the offense but also taking on the challenges of defending Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard throughout various stretches.
Now in the seeding games portion of the restart, a frustrating loss to the Toronto Raptors was followed by defeating the Utah Jazz. In doing so the Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the first time in a decade.
The accomplishment sat particularly well with James because of long-held questions about whether he could succeed outside of the Eastern Conference, per Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“Since 2010, right?” James said to The Times. “They said I couldn’t do it. I’ll enjoy this one,” James said, nodding as he grinned. “They said I can’t do it.”
“I can just say it feels damn good to be the number one seed in the West,” James said. “For me, personally.”
While James is personally reveling in the Lakers securing the best record in the West, he has remained mindful of the ultimate goal the franchise has. With that, James regularly highlighted health as being more key than the team’s place in standings.
The Lakers have five seeding games remaining, including a back-to-back scenario on Wednesday and Thursday.
LeBron comfortable with MVP case
When previously discussing the NBA’s decision to not factor in seeding games for MVP and other voting on league awards, James said he was comfortable with his resume being finalized. His stance was similar to that of feelings around the Lakers being the No. 1 team in the Western Conference.
“As far the MVP race, I think I showed what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “Not only individually but from a team perspective. Us being No. 1 in the West, there was a lot of conversations about, ‘LeBron can do those things in the East, but if he ever came to the West, what could he do?’ I heard all of that.”
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