Although the Los Angeles Lakers may have become accustomed to missing the playoffs, LeBron James will find himself in unfamiliar territory come mid-April.
The Lakers are set to go six consecutive seasons without making the playoffs. Meanwhile, James is also preparing to watch them unfold from home for the first time since the 2004-05 NBA season, which was just after his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It is no secret that Los Angeles fell vastly short of their expectations that were set prior to the 2018-19 season. Not being in championship contention for the first time in more than a decade is clearly a tough pill to swallow for James.
The 34-year-old admits it has been difficult to come to grips with over the final stretch of the season following the team’s win over the Washington Wizards.
“I mean it’s been difficult in between days. I can’t sit here and lie just knowing that mathematically we’re not going to be in the postseason,” James said.
“It’s like March Madness for college kids for me to be able to go to March Madness and play that game. At the end of the day, once the game is here and when I suit up, it’s all business. I never change my approach.”
James’ comments are certainly understandable considering he spent nearly the last decade asserting his authority over the rest of the Eastern Conference. The move out to the Western Conference may not have gone as planned in Year 1 with the purple and gold but he seems to still be adamant about playing as much as he can over these last few games.
While the Lakers were still far from being considered a legitimate championship contender, James’ arrival was supposed to put an end to their ongoing five-year playoff drought. Unfortunately, things quickly got out of hand when injuries started to take their toll and it was not long before their struggles were magnified by the possibility of being left out of the postseason.
There is no question Year 1 with James and the young core has been far from ideal for Los Angeles. The Lakers can at least take solace in the fact that they will have a full offseason with the best player in the world as part of their free agency pitch.