Editor’s Note: The Silver Screen and Roll staff is counting down the most interesting Lakers heading into next season (The 15 guaranteed contracts plus the two guys on two-way contracts). We continue today with No. 1, LeBron James. Did you really think anyone else would top this list?
Ah, yes. LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers, the classic underdog story.
For the first time recent memory — if not ever — James is heading into an NBA season with lowered expectations. He’s playing for the NBA’s marquee franchise in one of the biggest media markets in the world on a team that just about every fan base hates — and usually because they’ve had their hearts ripped out by the Lakers at some point — but yet here are James and the Lakers, the plucky underdogs just trying to figure out their place in this wild and crazy league.
Unlike Ben Simmons, when someone calls James a coward, he takes the challenge upon himself. And jumping to an entirely new conference seems a lot more difficult than merely shooting a single three.
And the idea of a frustrated and insulted James should be terrifying for opposing teams. He’s heard all summer about how his move to the Lakers has driven a stake through the heart of his chances at ever winning a championship again, and potentially denying him a spot in the postseason next year.
James, the player lauded as the most capable at making any teammate their absolute best self, somehow won’t be able to help one of the most impactful rookies a season ago (Lonzo Ball), a sophomore who took a quantum leap forward in his sophomore campaign to remind everyone why he was taken second overall two summers ago (Brandon Ingram) and a first-team all-rookie selection (Kyle Kuzma) take the next step in their development?
Rajon Rondo outplayed Damian Lillard over the course of a four-game sweep only a few months ago, and yet he isn’t good enough to fulfill a bench role to help a team with James on it to reach the playoffs?
Luke Walton, widely considered one of the league’s most promising young coaches and previously a part of a coaching staff that beat James, is now all-of-a-sudden ill-equipped to deal with the pressures that come with coaching him?
I’m here to say that people should question James at their own peril, and it will be gripping to watch LeBron after he’s spent an entire summer listening to these takes about how dumb it was of him to sign with the Lakers. Something tells me he hasn’t particularly enjoyed that.
Over the course of his career, there’s been very little reason to doubt James’ decision-making both on and off the court. And yet, that’s all that’s seemed to have gone on in the months since he committed to the Lakers for at least the next three years.
Go on, doubt if you must. Question whether the Los Angeles Lakers, winners of 16 championships and darlings of the NBA, are capable of attaining success with an all-timer on their roster. It’s not like they’ve become experts at taking advantage of that type of situation over the last few decades.
Please, doubt James if you so desire. He hasn’t been in a situation few considered it possible for him to win in since he was a pup in the league, and the doubt he’s facing now will only fuel him as it has his entire career. Los Angeles is filled to the brim with superstars across its athletics, and James is the most interesting of all of them.
He may not be your typical underdog, but he’s ready to prove doubters wrong nonetheless.
The Final Most Interesting Lakers List:
1. LeBron James
3. Lonzo Ball
4. Kyle Kuzma
5. Rajon Rondo
6. Josh Hart
7. Ivica Zubac
9. Moe Wagner
10. Michael Beasley
11. Svi Mykhailiuk
12. JaVale McGee
13. Isaac Bonga
14. Lance Stephenson
15. Luol Deng
16. Alex Caruso
17. Travis Wear
Agree with the order? Think someone should have been higher? Let us know in the comments below!