Even if you are not a sports fan, chances are you have heard that LeBron James has moved on from the Cleveland Cavaliers yet again and joined one of the most prestigious franchises in North American sports: the Los Angeles Lakers.
This is an interesting union for many reasons, one of which has to do with a sizable chunk of (former) “LeBron haters” in the City of Angels. A lot of said animosity has to do with the last superstar the franchise had before his retirement in 2016: the great Kobe Bryant.
Bryant and James never crossed paths in the postseason, but they were the two clear-cut best players in basketball together for quite some time. Natuarally, this sparked rivalries between fans of both stars. It is also worth noting that this all started before James became the clear-cut second best (if not the best) greatest player in history. Before all of the ‘James or Michael Jordan?’ talk, it was ‘James or Bryant?’
The answer to that question pretty much solved itself over the years for those of us who were not blinded by fanhood, but many in LA would still insist that James did not hold a candle to their hometown hero. At least they would have a couple of weeks ago.
Now, the Lakers have added the most dominant individual in sports to a young and seemingly up-and-coming roster. James will join fresh talent Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, who were both selected number two overall in their respective drafts in 2016 and 17.
Despite the change of scenery and the excitement of #LABron, there is actually a good chance that James will be less successful during the 2018-19 season than he has in nearly a decade. James will move from the Eastern to the Western Conference for the first time in his career, which means a greater challenge in the postseason.
James alone makes LA at least the third best team in the west, but the Houston Rockets very nearly knocked off the inflated and unfair roster that has become the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals in May. If the Lakers do not add another big name, they have close to a zero percent chance of knocking off the Warriors in a seven game series and Houston would be very difficult as well. As things stand now, LeBron’s remarkable run of eight straight Finals appearances is in serious jeopardy in this new and improved conference he finds himself in for the first time.
Shall we talk about those Warriors? Sure. I will even try my best to keep it civil, but that will be no easy task. Shortly after James hit Hollywood, Golden State added former New Orleans Pelicans Center DeMarcus Cousins to a roster that already resembled a 10-year-old’s 2K fantasy draft. The one thing they were really missing was a center, and now the 2018-19 starting five in Golden State will be comprised of five All-Stars.
Cousins inked a one year deal with the Warriors, presumably to snag a cheap championship before he really gets paid next offseason. Kevin Durant’s decision to go to the Warriors has resulted in two rings, but it also made Durant a laughing stock who basically held a sign stating “I am not good enough to accomplish my goals unless I join the best regular season team of all time.” As for the Warriors, they told us they were not good enough to beat LeBron James with a roster that produced 73 wins. History will remember Durant accordingly. The same can be said for Cousins.
If the Golden State Warriors do not win it all again next season with this roster, it will be one of the greatest choke jobs in the history of sports. But sure, you get a ring.
The Warriors are not the only ones at fault here. The Lakers reportedly did not have interest in signing Cousins to join LeBron James at a similar price, so he took his business to San Francisco.
Personally, I do not know why LA would hesitate if they really did have a chance to bring in Cousins. They could very well sign another big name and still lose to Golden State in five or six games, but there is just no chance to beat them at all where it stands now.
LeBron James might just be the greatest basketball player of all time. However, he was not enough in Cleveland and he will not be enough for the Lakers without further assistance.