Few athletes have been more successfully brand-aware for as long or longer than LeBron James. Hell, I could extend this to all public people and that statement would still ring pretty true. He’s going on two decades of being the loudest voice in every room with only a couple real controversies to his name.
The way you do that? Hyper-awareness (and a great PR branch plus willing allies in the media). James almost always knows how people are going to receive what he either says or, more often than not, doesn’t. This is why both Sabreena Merchant and I were both incredibly intrigued with his comments following practice Monday afternoon.
Today on “I Love Basketball,” we both offer our best LeBron translations for his responses to questions about the Lakers roster and head coach.
Let’s start with James’ comments about the roster and, most notably, who put it together.
LeBron says he has not seen enough to know if this team is a complete roster based on injuries, including to himself.— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) December 6, 2021
"I love what Rob and coach and the front office did to assemble this team. We look forward to the journey ahead."
Ah, so it was Rob Pelinka, Frank Vogel and the front office who put this roster together now, is it? I’m sorry, but I have to imagine that if the Lakers were playing better or sat higher in the standings, he would figure into those conversations a little bit.
Next, and perhaps more notably, came his comments when asked about the criticism being levied against Frank Vogel.
Nowhere in there does LeBron offer any support of Frank Vogel, championship head coach. If that isn’t notable enough by itself, take into account what he and the rest of the Lakers said about Tyronn Lue his Clippers beat James and Vogel’s Lakers, and well, it’s just kind of awkward.
Look, we know Vogel was the third choice back when he was hired. We know that Vogel was only extended a single season beyond this one despite having won a championship only two seasons (and just over one year) ago. We also know that James is in on and a large part of every basketball decision the Lakers make. I won’t go so far as to say that his relationship with his current head coach is in tatters, but I also wouldn’t characterize it as particularly confident.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.