With very few exceptions, the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t looked much like a cohesive unit of late, starting from when the Anthony Davis trade rumors peaked a few weeks ago until now.
When LeBron James was speaking with reporters after the Lakers beat Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night, he wasn’t talking about the trade rumors. He was talking about the way he and his teammates strung a few dunks together to shift momentum back towards the Lakers. But even if those rumors — and the ensuing collapse they preceded — weren’t exactly what James was talking about, his words may have revealed that the healing process has begun nonetheless.
“We just had to get our composure back. We had been talking about sticking together no matter if teams make runs or not, and we did that,” James said. “Those were huge momentum plays for our ball club.”
Now, the Lakers stopping a Pelicans run might not seem like much, but the team finally sticking together through some in-game adversity — even against a lottery opponent like New Orleans — still qualifies as progress, especially given that the Lakers lost their prior two games to another lottery team in the Memphis Grizzlies and these same Pelicans.
It sounds like the Lakers have recognized that they’ve had issues responding when they get hit in the mouth, ripping apart like wet tissue paper at the first sign of a struggle. And because James has been criticized for his recent leadership style on this website (and on many others, and across social media) of late, it’s only fair to point out that he deserves credit for trying to bring to the team back together.
James spoke multiple times this week about the need for him and the rest of the team to stay positive as they chase a playoff spot, and put his money (moves) where his mouth at their recent practice, dancing his way through a 3-point contest. Before the Lakers took on the Pelicans, he continued to spread positive vibes on Instagram.
Things stayed just as happy at Friday morning’s shootaround:
LeBron was quite pleased about winning the post-shootaround 3-point contest: pic.twitter.com/on0KlhX8ui— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 1, 2019
Now maybe that stuff is exactly the transparent attempt to shift narratives that it appears to be, or maybe it’s actual evidence of an improved vibe around this team. Maybe the former can create the latter and both can be true. Either way, James was asked how the Lakers have started to get their positivity back, and outlined what the team can do to continue to grow it.
“Every day is going to be its own challenge. Tomorrow will be another challenge for us on how we can continue tomorrow,” James said. “It’s ‘how can we get better tomorrow?’ And then come in Friday and do the same. Every day you just try to stay positive throughout whatever is going on.”
We haven’t seen a lot of evidence that the entire Lakers team can do so yet, but there have been brief flashes. If the team can extend those glimpses and make positivity a consistent trait, they just might be able to turn this thing around (and have fun while they’re doing it).
And if all this was just another meaningless flash that ultimately doesn’t continue, and they continue to look miserable, at least they won’t have to deal with each other for much longer.