You saw it like us, the Lakers have the feat of miss the train of the play-in tournament by chaining a seventh straight defeat to Phoenix last night. And who doesn’t participate means no playoffs for the legendary Los Angeles franchise, and who says no playoffs for LA means no playoffs for LeBron James. It’s rare enough to be highlighted as it’s only the fourth time it’s happened to him in two decades. Flashback to the other three.
2004 with the Cavaliers
LeBron James’ very first season in the NBA was not synonymous with the Playoffs. At the same time, we don’t know many (nobody) who would have managed to get Ricky Davis, Carlos Boozer and Co. in the postseason at just 18 years of age. Because even if he immediately showed that he was indeed the heralded phenom by putting out a pure rookie season in 20 points – 5 rebounds – 5 assists, the young King arrived in a Cleveland franchise that came out after one.
perfectly executed tank operation campaigned at just 17 wins for 65 losses. What we would rather not forget about that season is that the Cavaliers have regained their respectability by winning nearly 20 more games (final record of 35-47) thanks to the arrival of the prodigy from Ohio. “I don’t think a high school student can just come to the NBA and change the destiny of a team” however, the genius Darius Miles (Cavs player between 2002 and 2004) had declared before the arrival of his teammate, bah the proof that if. Even more than the progress shown in the results, eyes were suddenly on Cleveland. LeBron’s first NBA game for Sacramento was one of the most highly anticipated games in regular season history pretty great first game in a season where James finished with Rookie of the Year ahead of Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
2005 with the Cavaliers
LeBron definitely had to wait a while before he could taste the scent of the Playoffs. And in 2005 it was finally the disappointment. So on paper, the Cavaliers certainly took another step forward by finishing with their first positive record since the 1997-98 season, Cleveland won seven games more than the previous year to finish with 42 wins. Admittedly, the King has established himself as an All-Star in the NBA by finishing with a sophomore campaign with 27 points – 7 rebounds – 7 assists (quite fair when you’re 20 years old). But the band at the King collapsed during the final weeks of the regular as it headed to find the postseason. That year, the Cavaliers were second in the middle of the East, before dropping 19 of their last 30 games to finish in place of the opposing team (ninth behind the Nets as both finished with the same balance). However, LeBron gave absolutely everything during the final deadlines of the season, the King closed the final game with a massive triple-double to 27 points – 14 rebounds – 14 assists on the floor of Toronto, where he had already dropped 56 pawns an month before. It’s the first real disappointment in LBJ’s NBA career, but it’s mostly the job that comes with it, as they say.
“What I remember from this season is how I managed to progress. The way my teammates let me lead the team. It was very special for me. The end of the season was very disappointing, but just like everyone should I’m going through some tough times before I get to the Playoffs. And I’ll be there very soon.”
The following season, LeBron landed in the Playoffs to start a string of thirteen consecutive entries in the Cleveland and Miami jersey.
2019 with the Lakers
A series that ended in 2019 at the end of LeBron James’ first season with the Lakers. After competing in the NBA Finals eight times in a row, the King landed in Los Angeles to start a new career challenge and get the California franchise back on track after several grueling seasons. And the start was far from disgusting, the new band in LeBron posted a record 20 wins for 14 losses on Christmas Day 2019. Except it’s on this day specifically on the Oakland side that the Los Angeles campaign tilted, with the King suffered a groin injury in what was the first real injury of his career. The beginning of the end. Without James, the Lakers dropped 12 out of 18 games and the King’s return wasn’t enough to reverse the trend, even though the latter had “activated Playoffs mode” earlier than expected. Rather, the California franchise’s campaign turned into a circus, with the beginnings of a rift between LeBron and the team’s youngsters (Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, all of whom were in talks for a trade by Anthony Davis) and a blatant lack of automation. Add to that the presence of characters like Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo or even Michael Beasley in the group, as well as a resignation of the president Magic Johnson after the final game of the regular season, and you get the new edition of los angeles circus† Injuries, results in cardboard, free fall in the standings, rumors about transfers, players who fail to evolve properly together… well, does that remind you of something?
For the fourth time in his career, LeBron James will therefore watch the Playoffs from his couch. And just like in 2019 it will be very weird. The King can always console himself by aiming for the NBA season’s top goalscorer title, but should still play in at least two of his team’s last three games…