LeBron James doesn’t like losing, nor is he all that familiar with it. James hasn’t had a losing record in February since his rookie season, which was also the last time he finished a season with a losing record.
The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, have only known losing for the greater half of this decade. The last time the Lakers finished a season with a winning record was in 2013, when Kobe Bryant willed his team to the playoffs before tragically rupturing his Achilles tendon with two games left in the regular season. They haven’t sniffed the postseason since then.
Following the Lakers’ loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, their 30th of the season, James told reporters that he feels that there are people in the locker room that aren’t as bothered by losing as they should be (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“The last few years, everyone’s so accustomed to the losses that I’m just not accustomed to. I’m not accustomed to it, I’d never get comfortable with losing. Losing game one to Houston, it feels the same way as losing game 59 in New Orleans, for me. That’s just how I’m built. That’s who I am.”
Kuzma said almost the exact same thing in his postgame interview, but James questioned whether or not some of his teammates understand what it really means to make a push for the playoffs at this stage of the season:
“How many know what’s at stake if you’ve never been there? ... When you’ve never been there or know what it takes to actually shoot for something like that, sometimes you’re afraid to get uncomfortable. You’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
"I’m not saying that’s what we are as a whole — it kind of looks that way at times but sometimes I feel like we’re afraid to get uncomfortable, get out of our comfort zone, have that sense of urgency from the jump and not be afraid to actually go out and fail or succeed. We have, what, 23 games left? We’ll see what happens.”
James said that he was sympathetic to the various injuries the team has suffered throughout the season, including his own, but he thinks most of their problems can be traced back to effort and dedication to their craft:
“It’s how you approach the game every day, it’s how you think the game every day, it’s how you play the game, it’s how you prepare for the game, and that’s not even like, when you get to the arena. That’s like way before that.
"Basketball: if that’s not the most important thing, then why we doing this? Is this the most important thing in yo’ life at this time? You give it all to the game and if you feel like you’ve given your all to it, then you have nothing to look back on and you can do other things. But if you feel like you haven’t given as much as you can, then you can’t focus on anything else.”
James has been pretty patient and understanding with the way his first season in Los Angeles has gone so far, but it sounds like he’s getting to a point where he’s tired of hearing excuses, whether it’s from the front office, the coaching staff or his teammates.
When asked if he thinks the Lakers have enough to turn things around and start playing consistently, James gave an honest, but discouraging, answer:
“I don’t know. We’ve just got to play better our next game in Memphis, but we’re like 60 games in, so, I don’t know.”
With a loss to the Pelicans on Saturday, the Lakers are 3.5 games of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, which is the furthest they’ve been out of the playoff picture since November. They’ll have the opportunity to shrink that gap on Monday, when they face the lowly Memphis Grizzlies, but if they’re not going to capitalize on wins they’re supposed to on their schedule, it might not matter.