LeBron James is the most popular basketball player on the planet. When he goes somewhere, it’s all over the internet. If he were to tweet that he hated mac and cheese, Kraft itself would release a statement. And when James says something just a tiny bit controversial, it becomes front-page news.
Given that he has been in the limelight since he was a teenager, it appears the Los Angeles Lakers star is well aware of the impact his words have on the national media conversation. So, after a recent embarrassing loss, James chose to skip his postgame press conference, and he did so because he didn’t like what he was going to say.
The Denver Nuggets embarrassed the Lakers in a 37-point win
It has been a tough season for the Lakers. It seems that LeBron James has been giving it his all every night, averaging 28.8 points (his most in over a decade), 7.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. But the Lakers are a mediocre 22-22, and on Jan. 15, they lost to the Denver Nuggets by a whopping 37 points.
LA had high expectations entering the season, and the team hasn’t even come close to reaching them. Losing by nearly 40 points in a game probably wasn’t in the plans, either.
James played OK against the Nuggets. Not great, but not awful, as he had 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting. However, he didn’t get much offensive help, as only two other Lakers reached double digits in scoring.
The defense, though, was atrocious. Denver dropped 133 points on LA, and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic didn’t even have 20, as Jeff Green scored 26 and Bones Hyland had 27. The Nuggets also shot 51.6% as a team and 57.5% from 3-point range.
The game was a new low for the Lakers. And it appears James wasn’t too happy after the game, as he even tweeted out an apology to Purple and Gold fans.
He also refused to speak to the media.
LeBron James revealed why he refused to speak to the media
Not speaking to the media after a game is rare for LeBron James. It seems he has always understood his responsibility as the face of the NBA. But he chose not to do so after the embarrassing loss to the Nuggets, and he opened up as to why he made that decision a couple of days later.
“I had time to collect my thoughts, but I didn’t like what was gonna come out of my mouth,” he said in his Jan. 17 press conference, per the Lakers’ YouTube. “So, I decided not to speak with you guys because I understand that some things that I say can be everywhere. So, I didn’t want that for my teammates at that point in time, so I decided to just keep it to myself.”
This season has been a difficult challenge for the Lakers, and it seems James — a four-time champion who went to eight straight NBA Finals and nine in 10 years from 2011 through 2020 — doesn’t like what’s going on.
But he and LA responded.
LeBron James and the Lakers got a big win over the Jazz
Following the loss to the Nuggets, the Lakers played one of the Western Conference’s top teams in the Utah Jazz on Jan. 17. And they seemed motivated to right their wrongs from their embarrassing performance in the game before.
LA won 101-95 over Utah and played much better defensively. The team’s defensive rating, which estimates the points it allows per 100 possessions, was 143.4 against the Nuggets, but it lowered to 98.2 during the Jazz game, which is better than its season average of 110.1. The Jazz also shot just 36.9% from the field and 26.1% from 3-point range.
Offensively, LeBron led the way with 25 points, but Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Stanley Johnson all scored more than 10 in the game.
Was the win over Utah season-changing? Probably not. But it was a step in the right direction. Now, it’s time for the Lakers to play that way more consistently and string together several wins in a row.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference