While the Los Angeles Lakers came into the 2020-21 season as the favorites to win another NBA title, things certainly haven’t been easy for the defending NBA champs.
With Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder out, the Lakers recently lost four straight games, their longest losing streak of the season.
Moreso than on the court though, the Lakers have dealt with some struggles off it due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has forced players to follow strict protocols on a day-to-day basis.
After the Lakers’ recent win against the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James echoed Steve Kerr’s though that they have had a hard time finding motivation on a game-to-game basis.
“It’s been extremely tough. You have to literally self-motivate yourself every single day,” James said. “It’s very tough, because you’re playing every other day if not back-to-back. There’s not much downtime, so you have to motivate yourself.
“Being here in California, us, Sac., the Clips and G.S., we don’t have the luxury of having fans right now. It’s very challenging. You’ve just got to have that self-discipline and self-motivation to know that you’re going out there and have to use your teammates and yourself to get the energy.”
James spoke about finding motivation to play almost every other day without even mentioning the fact that the Lakers had the shortest offseason in American sports history. That adds another layer of difficulty on top of an already hard situation.
The most impressive part about all of this is that the Lakers sit at 24-11 while the other three conference finalists from 2020 — the Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, and Boston Celtics — are 18-15, 17-17, and 17-17 respectively.
James is luckily just two games away from getting somewhat of a break physically. While he will have to travel to Atlanta for the All-Star Game, he won’t need to be nearly as physically and mentally invested and will then get a few days off afterward.
Lakers trying to lighten load for James
James isn’t the only one who has had concerns about the difficulty of the current season. Lakers coach Frank Vogel has also tried to find ways to preserve James as the season wears on. “I think in both of these two games [win over Portland and loss to Washington], that’s something we’re trying to get accomplished where ‘Bron doesn’t have to do as much within his minutes,” he said.
“That he can play off the ball more, we wanted him to play in the post a little bit more tonight, and have either Alex or Dennis — and Talen at times — initiating the offense, just lightening that load a little bit. I thought it paid dividends.”
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