It has been two weeks since LeBron James made his now infamous “Playoff mode activated” quote. LeBron claimed that, although he hates to do it early, his level of play that he uses during the playoffs is now unleashed. This comment came after the All-Star weekend in response to a string of close wins and blow out losses before the break.
However, James has taken a lot of heat for these comments following his own, and his team’s, performance.
Since that comment, the Lakers, who were 28-29, have gone 2-6. The Lakers were on the playoff bubble. They have since dropped to the 11th seed in the West, just behind the Minnesota Timberwolves. With only 17 games left in the Lakers season they are seven games out of a playoff spot.
There is also concern about what that means for LeBron’s effort throughout the rest of the season. This comment is insinuating that he does not play his hardest until the playoffs.
The Lakers are also a young team looking for guidance. Rumors about James wanting nearly everyone traded on top of this comment is damaging to team rapport.
Offensively James has been excellent though. Having games with 27 points and 12 assists and 33 points and 10 assists in this stretch. James is also the team’s leader in points per game at 27.1, and assists per game, at 8.
The issue is on the defense. Hundreds of clips have gone viral of James’s seeming entire lack of defense. Many fans will point to his groin injury saying that he could still be slowed down by that. Others will point to his age. James is 34 years old, father time may be starting to creep up. No matter the reason though, playing defense the way he has been, along with the team’s overall performance, following such a strong claim is a terrible look.
This cannot all be put on James though. There should be some responsibility given when the best basketball player in the world is struggling to make the playoffs with players like Rondo, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram are struggling to make the playoffs. But overall, fans have seen that aside from questionable defense LeBron is yet again offensively carrying a team.
If the locker room issues are not addressed soon though this failure of a season could continue throughout the next several seasons. By then LeBron will be nearly 37 and probably on a major decline in his career.
Magic Johnson needs to step in as soon as possible and sort out these issues if Laker’s fans are hoping to see another banner in the Staples Center soon.