Ben McLemore may not be sure if he’ll be returning to the Lakers in free agency, but there is no doubt in his mind that he wouldn’t be getting asked about it yet if Anthony Davis hadn’t gotten hurt against the Phoenix Suns.
ambushed interviewed by TMZ Sports while walking around Los Angeles this weekend, and when asked if the Lakers would still be in the playoffs if Davis didn’t get injured, McLemore’s response was simple.
“Everybody knows that,” McLemore said (around the 50-ish second mark in the video below).
Hilariously, you can almost see the man LeBron once called B Mac Daddy Young Strappy calculating in real-time that what he just said is about to be a headline when the TMZ Sports paparazzo had a follow-up question based on his answer:
TMZ: You guys would have got past the Suns?
McLemore: “Next question.”
But look: McLemore might be right. We’ll never know the answer of course, but the Lakers did appear to be fully in control of this series while taking a 2-1 lead in their first game back in Los Angeles. I mean, for God’s sake, our own Anthony Irwin — one of the biggest pessimists about the Lakers to ever exist and a man not exactly known for positive hyperbole — titled our podcast that night “Sure feels like this Lakers-Suns series is over.”
And he was right, just not in the way he expected, as Davis hurt his groin the very next game, essentially ending any real chance the Lakers had to move on. But to McLemore’s point, it’s not exactly insane to suggest that things might have gone differently if Davis didn’t get hurt.
Now, this certainly isn’t all to say that there is some asterisk on the Suns’ success. Despite the collective goldfish brain that is NBA Twitter somehow always forgetting this, injuries are a part of the playoffs every single year, and every single year people try to put an asterisk on the eventual champion as a result. Let’s not be those annoying people who have whined “ADisney” or “LeMickey” all year about the Lakers’ ring. As a community that has actually seen multiple championships, we’re better than that, and know that it takes health luck to win a championship too. This year, the Lakers just didn’t get it. That doesn’t take anything away from the Suns, who still had to go out and take care of business in this postseason war of attrition.
Still, as a competitor, it’s hard to blame McLemore for feeling like things might have been different if the Lakers had gotten better health luck. We’ll never know how things would have turned out, of course, but I personally won’t begrudge him his opinion. After all, he wouldn’t have made it to this level if he ever expected to lose.