Though the Los Angeles Lakers technically have little to play for since they have already clinched the top seed in the Western Conference, there is still plenty to accomplish in their remaining seeding games.
Unfortunately for LeBron James and the rest of the team, that didn’t show in their first contest since securing the best record in the West. The Lakers looked like a team with nothing to play for as their energy and execution was lacking in an embarrassing 19-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As the leader of the team, most would look towards James to get them together, especially with his vast experience in the league. And while that still may be the case, James stopped short of readily being able to help guide his teammates.
“This is a totally different situation than any other situation I’ve been in during my career,” James said following the loss. “So I have zero experience with having the No. 1 seed inside a bubble, during seeding games, playing in August. This is a learning experience for all of us and we’re going to continue to take it day by day.
“We’ve been out four and a half months, and we played great basketball before the layoff. We implemented a couple guys into the system who have not been with us the whole season, we lost two of our guys — one is not making the trip at all — and with Rondo being hurt, he was a big part of our nucleus.
“We’re just trying to fit everybody in, try to do it on the fly, and at the same time get our legs back underneath us, get our system back in place, try to speed up the process for guys who haven’t been with us in Dion and JR.”
Obviously every team had to sit out like the Lakers did and now has to find themselves again. But the Lakers were playing their best basketball at the time the season was postponed and no other championship contender has to replace a starter like the Lakers do. Nonetheless, James remains confident in his team because of the work they put in.
“When you put in the work, you’re OK with the result, no matter make or miss. We’ve all put in the work,” he added. “I know my guys have put in the work and I know I’ve put in the work. Make or miss, you can be OK with the results.
“It’s only when you do not put in the time or commit to the game, put in the time to your body and things of that nature, when you can start second guessing or saying, ‘What is going on?’ When you put in the hours or the reps, you don’t worry about it too much. You just continue to go after it.”
LeBron admits NBA bubble is ‘huge challenge’
The NBA being inside a bubble in Orlando is a situation unlike anything the league or any other sports league has ever had to deal with. Players, coaches and staff are having to deal with things they’ve never had to.
“Obviously, being away from your family is an unbelievable sacrifice we’re all making, and it’s very difficult. We have road games, when we go to the West Coast or East Coast, you have 11-day road trips of five or six games,” James said.
“And sometimes when you play in the Olympics, you can be away from your family because you’re traveling from country to country. But nothing has ever compared to this. It’s a huge sacrifice we’re all making. I miss the hell out of my family, my wife, my kids, my mother and so on. It’s a huge challenge to be able to stay locked in.”
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