Given that this is the internet and the way the current media climate works, it was only a matter of when, not if, someone would try to report of some issue between Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton and the team’s newest free agency signing, LeBron James.
You see, every time James has switched teams, the first narrative that gets either spoken of or spoken into existence is that James has some level of discontentment with his new coach, and it seemed unlikely that signing with the Lakers and entering their gigantic media spotlight would be the time the star bucks that trend.
And it wasn’t long after July 1 that a “reporter” started a rumor (I’m not going to link to it here and continue to give them a larger platform, it’s out there if you want to find it), that James hadn’t yet spoken to Walton, the implication being that this was a problem, which would make sense if you ignored the fact that James was hardly joining the Lakers (or any other team) because of their coach and that he literally announced his decision and got on a plane to take his family out of the country right afterwards.
Still, it turns out that in addition to probably not being a real issue, that rumor probably wasn’t accurate, as Bill Oram of the Athletic reports that Walton has spoken with James since he agreed to terms with the Lakers (emphasis mine):
Reports that James had not spoken to Walton surfaced after LeBron committed to join the Lakers on July 1 and fueled theories of an early disconnect between the superstar and his sixth NBA head coach.
Walton and James, who were both drafted in 2003, had actually communicated via text message, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic, and the Lakers are confident James is comfortable with Walton on the bench. But the seed had been planted, and it was followed by a day of coverage and debate about What It Meant.
Look, we don’t have to do this. There is going to be so much real drama around the Lakers this year between all the interesting personalities they brought in, to the first time they go on a losing streak and everything LaVar Ball says in between. We don’t have to make up fake things to overreact about, or get started with this stuff now. Can they play a game or at least have one practice of training camp before we start freaking about how much James is or isn’t talking to Luke Walton?
Sadly, probably not, but what we can do is do our best to determine reliable sources of information on the team, and not every person on Twitter qualifies. We’re going to need critical thinking about who is reporting what to determine what is worth actually getting worked up about this year, and this is just the first lesson.
Maybe James really will have a problem with Walton at some point — who knows? — but it’s probably worth waiting for actual evidence of it first before we just unilaterally decide that’s going to be a narrative around the team all season.
So far, it appears the two don’t have issues, and Walton seems to be doing his best to poll James’ former coaches and figure out the most effective way to approach this season, all of which is worth noting but sadly is unlikely to get as much attention as rumors that the two do have issues, no matter how unreliable.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.