Skip Bayless has questioned LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers for just about everything imaginable, right down to why the NBA superstar was drinking a bottle of water after a game. The Fox Sports talker asserted it was James’ way of implying he had been dehydrated during a 2018 loss while with the Cleveland Cavaliers rather than saying so and therefore making it sound like an excuse.
Bayless threw out a new assertion last week after a surprising Lakers loss. It took the future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee a mere week to shut it down.
Skip Bayless hasn’t always been like this
Skip Bayless, 69, made his reputation in the sports media world as a newspaper reporter and columnist, with his most noted work coming as he covered the Dallas Cowboys beginning in the late 1970s. That led to him authoring three books about the NFL team and frequent appearances on radio and TV.
The writing eventually fell by the wayside as Bayless joined ESPN in 2004 and then moved to Fox Sports in 2016. He has been a mainstay of debate-style daytime sports talk shows, most notably alongside Stephen A. Smith.
A talk show without an edge to it is a recipe for a ratings disaster, so Bayless frequently stirs things up. One of his go-to moves over the years has been to criticize NBA great LeBron James. A website went so far as to create a graphic illustrating what it called “5 Steps to a Skip Bayless Hot Take” using James to demonstrate the disingenuous fashion in which Bayless scores debate points rooted more in style than substance.
Skip Bayless had a problem with LeBron James’ fourth quarters
The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a meltdown in a Jan. 18, 2021, loss to the Golden State Warriors, blowing a 19-point lead en route to a 115-113 loss. It marked the second time this season the Lakers lost a game that they had led entering the fourth quarter. LA had been 57-0 in such situations last season.
Fox Sports personality Skip Bayless took that as the green light to lay the blame on LeBron James.
“Your man, LeBron James, has become an early-season fourth-quarter disaster,” Bayless told co-host Shannon Sharpe, according to Heavy.com. “And I don’t know why because he’s never been this bad. But I will insist to you what I insisted before the year started, your team still does not have a closer.”
What has happened since? The Lakers have won three straight, including a 115-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 25 in a game in which they trailed entering the final 12 minutes.
And it gets better.
Trust us, LeBron James is just fine in the fourth quarter
LeBron James buried the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter on Monday. The 18-year veteran scored 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting to finish the night with 46 points in giving the Lakers a 10-0 start in road games this season. Kobe Bryant was the only player ever to score more (23) in the fourth quarter of an NBA victory.
Granted, one game does not completely refute the contention of Skip Bayless that James has become a “fourth-quarter disaster.” On the other hand, what if Bayless was off the mark to begin with? According to Basketball Reference, James is more productive in the fourth period this year than Bayless suggests.
James is fourth in the league with 120 points after the third quarter, and he is not a one-trick pony. James is also fifth in assists (three behind leader Nikola Jokic) and 20th in rebounds. His 3-point percentage is 11th among players with 25 attempts, and he stands at 50.9% inside the arc. About the only bad number in the bunch would be his 14 turnovers, tied for fourth in the league.
Perhaps Bayless would like to take another stab at finding a theory in his flaw.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.