Despite being in the midst of a franchise-worst playoff drought, the Los Angeles Lakers received a significant boost in free agency when LeBron James decided to sign with the team. His arrival marked a significant crowning achievement for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
Considering James had already established his case as one of the greatest players in NBA history, his joining the Lakers came with heightened expectations. James’ stint in Los Angeles got off to a rocky start with injuries and the team struggling to find its rhythm with the new dynamic, which resulted in a rare absence for him from the postseason.
Johnson abruptly resigned, but James and the Lakers remained focus and atoned for the shaky first year. Of course, the trade for Anthony Davis was a significant factor in that, but so too was Pelinka filling out the roster well.
As the Lakers remain hopeful to win the championship, Pelinka recently noted James’ elevated determination, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“You spend time around the great greats, not just the greats but some of the greatest to ever play, and when it gets close to playoff time, those guys get so locked in. It’s just another level of the mental approach, the physical approach, the mindset. And you can see it in LeBron. He’s locked in to a mission, he’s got one thing in sight. He wants to bring a title home to the Lakers and he’s going to do everything within his power to do it.”
James had already joined some elite company due to his previous achievements with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. However, he understood full well that he would be in position to join a class all by himself by potentially winning a championship with a third different team.
LeBron reveled in Western Conference dominance
The Lakers managed to take care of business by securing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with an early win during seeding games. With that, James was able to prove the doubters wrong once again after years of facing criticism for playing in a weakened Eastern Conference.
Those that made efforts to downplay his accomplishments in the East did not go unnoticed. He admitted winning the West was a big deal from a personal standpoint.
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