Right after the increasingly lifeless Lakers got blown out by 28 against the New Orleans Pelicans at home on a night meant to honor broadcaster Stu Lantz’s three-plus decades with the team, LeBron James had a message he wanted to send to fans.
No, it wasn’t him taking responsibility for his effort (or lack thereof), or a promise that he and his teammates would be better. Instead, he wanted to continue his recent dispute with Bill Oram of The Athletic under the guise of an expression of regret, and so he posted an apology that was as passive aggressive as any of his remarks over the past week that drew him so much negative media coverage in the first place.
@billoram and I had a candid conversation after the game tonight and I know he has a job to do. I know what he wrote wasn’t truthful cause it never came from me. But I get it, SOURCES run this game. Nevertheless #LakerNation let him be cause he ain’t a bad guy. ✊— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 28, 2022
It was his first tweet in three days. The Lakers are 0-2 in that time.
For context, James was (sort of, but not really) apologizing to Oram for going at him following the team’s Friday night loss to the Clippers, when he wrapped up a rant claiming the media had twisted his words by saying “Bill doesn’t like the Lakers anyways. So it’s always going to be a negative anytime Bill says anything about the Lakers. So I hope no one in the Lakers faithful listens to Bill Oram. I hope not. He hasn’t said one great thing about the Lakers, in so long. OK.”
It’s not hard to figure out what article drew James’ ire. Oram’s author history shows that he only wrote one story during the All-Star break, titled “As tensions rise between LeBron James and Rob Pelinka, where will Lakers draw the line?” His lede was “LeBron James and the Lakers are heading for a divorce,” and he wrote that “the situation is tense enough that one source close to the Lakers likened it to the early days of a war.”
The only other information in it that he sourced was:
- “So far, the Lakers haven’t shown a particular willingness to engage in battle with their superstar, with sources saying that Pelinka has insisted internally that there are no hard feelings between the two sides.”
- “For as important as Bryant was to the Lakers, sources inside the organization have long said that not even the legendary Black Mamba wielded as much power within the organization as James now has.”
So if James is upset with how “SOURCES run this game” and saying Oram “wasn’t truthful,” it’s one of those three reports that he is calling false, presumably. He didn’t specify which one, so it could be any (or all of) the three. All that is clear is that this is really pretty lame, and it’s hard to see how the state of this team shouldn’t leave James with more important things to care about than continuing this aggressively petty public feud with a writer by tweeting an apology that is still calling him a liar.
I know that some are going to just take this story as “media circling around and covering for their own,” but that’s honestly not my intent. I just think this is really lame from LeBron, who should be better than this (and usually is). Especially when it seems like his real issue should be with the people in the Lakers organization telling this stuff to Oram and trying to paint LeBron as the bad guy here while deflecting blame from themselves.
Still, in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I will just add that from the moment I was a college student getting my start covering this team, Oram has been kind to me. He certainly covers the Lakers tough and holds them accountable (going back to some truly memorable postgame exchanges during the Byron Scott years), and while I don’t always agree with his takes — just like I’m sure he doesn’t always agree with mine — as James said, “he ain’t a bad guy.”
I know tensions are high for everyone in this Lakers community right now, but I think it’s important that we should all remember that this stuff doesn’t have to be personal. At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. We can disagree with a writer, a player, or each other without them being a bad person. And plus, if the organization is making it clear both through personnel inaction and their play on the floor that they don’t care, maybe we should all just step back, take a deep breath, and let them handle the finger pointing for this mess instead of getting mad on their behalf.
After all, this team doesn’t really deserve to be defended online, and clearly care more about doing that themselves than they do about playing basketball, anyway. Let them handle the mud slinging.