It has been 14 years since the last time LeBron James did not make the postseason. The world was a very different place back then.
But the fact that it has been so long just goes to show how dominant James has been throughout his NBA career. It also goes to show how disappointing his first season in L.A. has been. With about 15 games left in the season and 6.5 games back from the 8-seeded Jazz, the Lakers’ playoff hopes are all but over at this point. Looking back on the season, it’s hard to find any positives for James, who suffered injury, and whose legacy was torn apart by the media.
According to him, however, none of it is anything he was not expecting.
“It’s challenging,” James said of the current state of the Lakers. “But I kind of knew what I was getting myself into.”
When he signed with the Lakers, there was no promise of success right away. The roster was full of young, developing guys and a coach who had to adjust to heightened expectations. Can they build upon what happened this season? Rest is a big key.
“Rest is going to help,” said Miami guard Dwyane Wade of LeBron. “I think the biggest thing with him is probably mental, the mental break from it. Physically, obviously, he’s getting older but he’s still very good at this game. Look at his numbers. They’re still very good. But he’s been going at it for a long time, so to get away from it and kind of look at it from a different lens, it’ll definitely help.”
Truth is, nobody ever believed the Lakers would be competing for a Championship this season. When LeBron signed, it was always about who they’d get this upcoming summer, not necessarily who they’d trade for mid-season. LeBron knew things would be different, and so did we.
Even if they fell a little lower than we thought, there’s still time to make things right. There’s still time to build something special. Though, for the first time in 14 years, James will have a little extra time.