There is a great deal of anticipation in Los Angeles regarding the LA Lakers and the signage of LeBron James. Last season the LA team was a mediocre .427 percent in division play, far below the standard of excellence that their fan base was accustomed to. It was apparent that the team lacked the spark needed to make things happen in a positive way. What was missing was the marquee player(s) that would provide the necessary leadership both on and off the court. The dynasty of the purple and gold has taken a hit the last couple of years with the retirement of Kobe, but apparently, they are repositioning themselves with the acquisition of LeBron James. Bringing on LeBron’s dominating force and personality has all Southern California drooling.
The expectation of LeBron James is simple. In the fashion of the Laker legends, he could have an immediate impact by simply melding the team’s approach to a winning posture and transition that attitude to the court. There is no question that LeBron is a great player, but is he the leader that LA needs? I have noticed that there has been an inconsistency in his ability to handle the responsibility. My concern is that he appears to put himself first and the team second. In 2003, he signed and played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but impatiently left and signed with the Miami Heat in 2010. His leaving caused an uproar in the city of Cleveland with the fans protesting in the streets by burning his jersey. In Miami, LeBron was able to secure the long-awaited NBA Championship, but in June of 2014, he opted out of his contract and returned to Cleveland. Two years later, in 2016, he wins the city’s first Championship. Moving on to 2018, LeBron again leaves Cleveland and now signs with the Lakers. My concern is not centered on his ability to play the game, but rests solely on his commitment to his team. Will he play for two or four years and possibly leave again because the team is not up to par? I, like so many others, am cautiously optimistic on the realism of the speculation of what he can do on the Laker team.
My belief is that great players don’t necessarily make great leaders. Leaders tough it out and make their teammates better and most importantly, they don’t bailout at the first sign of adversity. So, for me the verdict is out to the jury on LeBron James. The yardstick of the Laker legacy is high, and I am anxiously awaiting to see how Lebron will respond to the gauntlet.