The Los Angeles Lakers are few weeks removed from suffering a disappointing first-round playoff exit. The early postseason departure has created plenty of chatter around LeBron James and the Lakers. With that in mind, one of James‘ former teammates recently voiced he got a laugh out of seeing him mocked.
LeBron James experiences his shortest playoff trip
The Lakers entered the 2020-21 season with high hopes of contending for a second straight NBA title.
However, Los Angeles quickly struggled to work past lingering injuries and inconsistent play from the supporting cast. James and Davis suffered significant injuries, sidelining both for extended stretches.
The two stars returned before the playoffs, but neither managed to move completely past the ailments. Davis suffered a groin injury in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Suns. He missed the next contest and only played five minutes of the close-out Game 6 loss before reaggravating the injury.
Meanwhile, James couldn’t recapture the same physical lift and explosiveness after returning from a right high ankle sprain that sidelined him for nearly two months. With all that in the rearview mirror, one of the star forward’s former teammates got a kick out of him being on the receiving end of taunting.
LeBron James’ ex-Lakers teammate laughed at him being openly mocked
James‘ first-round playoff exit was capped by a convincing blowout loss at home in Game 6 against the Suns.
In the waning moments of the contest, veteran forward Jae Crowder took it upon himself to do some trash-talking to the four-time league MVP. Crowder took it upon himself to mock James by doing a salsa dance toward James referencing the recent Mountain Dew commercial where he did that. His actions drew a technical foul and he exited the game.
With that in mind, James’ former Lakers teammate Isaiah Thomas enjoyed seeing the veteran forward poking some fun at the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“It was hilarious,” said Thomas via Zach Lowe of ESPN. “Jae is not taking s— from anybody.”
Throughout the series, Crowder trolled the 17-time All-Star on several occasions. Thomas knows Crowder quite well after spending three seasons together with the Celtics. It isn’t throwing any shade toward James, but rather him laughing at the 31-year-old’s action because he knows how he is as a person.
Keep in mind, Crowder spent the 2017-18 campaign playing alongside James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is at least some level of familiarity that the two have together, which likely makes the taunting hit him a little differently.
It’s not often that the Lakers star forward deals with another player mocking him, especially during a playoff series. James will likely notice Thomas’ comments but not take any offense to the chatter. Instead, he will use it as another motivating factor to push him forward in his 19th season.
Prepared to lead the Lakers back into championship contention
The Lakers fell to a disappointing first-round playoff exit, but the franchise possesses two of the game’s best players to build around.
James and Davis will spend the offseason working toward getting healthy and preparing to bounce back next season. The 37-year-old may be heading into his 19th campaign, but he holds plenty of motivation to prove the doubters wrong.
He’s well aware of all the outside noise, especially given how many years he’s into his NBA career. Meanwhile, the chatter is only becoming louder concerning Father Time finally catching up to him. All that alone should be enough to push him forward to guide the Lakers toward NBA title contention.
The roster around James and Davis will play a pivotal part in contending for another championship. The expectation is that the front office will work diligently to construct a well-balanced group of talent.
Those efforts may include making a strong push to add another All-Star such as Kyle Lowry or possibly Damian Lillard if the pieces fall in place. All in all, the Lakers hold the opportunity ahead to get right back to competing for another NBA title.