LeBron James has had a rough debut season in Los Angeles, battling through a groin injury of his career and surrounded by a bunch of players not good enough to be traded for Anthony Davis. The Lakers are not making the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, thanks to James missing twenty games with the aforementioned injury, which means most of the attention has turned towards potential off-the-court drama.
In February, cameras caught LeBron sitting away from his teammates in the middle of a massive blowout loss to the Pacers. (The Lakers lost 136-94, as Pacers fans chanted “LeBron’s gonna trade you!” while Brandon Ingram shot free throws.)
Wobvestigation: LeBron at the end of the Lakers bench pic.twitter.com/g43fkq8JYK
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 6, 2019
Today, the Lakers are at Madison Square Garden taking on the Knicks, and cameras once again caught LeBron sitting at the end of the bench during a huddle. MSG Network analyst (and Hall of Fame member) Walt “Clyde” Frazier took exception to this, and went after LeBron to a surprising degree:
Clyde Frazier just absolutely tipping LeBron James pic.twitter.com/bPxksMADBm
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 17, 2019
Frazier is certainly a voice worth listening to, but it’s hard to see exactly where he’s coming from here. LeBron (coincidentally having a great game in New York, as of now 26 points on 13 shots, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds) is essentially the only reason his current team is competitive, as has been the case for many seasons in his career outside of Miami. He’s not in that particular team huddle because he wasn’t playing coming out of that timeout.
What analysts and people in the media in general seem to want from LeBron is a commitment to caring about optics, or perception. It’s all surface level, because that’s all the First Take artists and their ilk can see from the outside, and they have a lot of time to fill. Former players like Frazier, meanwhile, have their own wishes for LeBron, but to suggest he doesn’t really care about his team is pretty flimsy at best; why play at all, if that was the case, coming off that injury?
If Frazier is implying LeBron doesn’t care how things look, that might be closer to the truth, but it’s also not a big deal. LeBron standing over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s shoulder during a routine timeout isn’t going to help anybody.