LeBron James says he almost “cracked” during the Los Angeles Lakers’ early-season struggles. As the Lakers mix of young players and veterans figured out their roles, James says he almost lost it about a week ago. Instead he calmed himself and refocused.
Since then, LA has looked much better. The Lakers have won five of their last six games.
When talking to Yahoo Sports after the Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, James admitted the following:
”I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked (last week). I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘(Expletive), you knew what you were getting yourself into,’ This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”
That’s the thing, LeBron and everyone involved with the Lakers knew this was going to be a process — and most likely a multi-year process. But when you’ve been as successful as James has over his career it’s incredibly difficult to accept that, even when you’re expecting it.
The Lakers struggled mightily in two areas to open the season. The first was defensively, where a lack of size at the rim has made things a mess on the back end. The second has been closing out games. Both of those issues will take time to solve as the squad develops chemistry. Luckily, the addition of veteran big man Tyson Chandler seems to have helped in both areas.
Despite being 36, Chandler can still protect the rim and rebound. Those are two areas LA’s second unit has needed help in all season.
Lets not make any mistakes, the Lakers play in the meat-grinder that is the NBA’s Western Conference, this isn’t going to get any easier. James is going to have moments where he wants to tear the whole team down around him and bring in stop-gap fixes. But that’s the kind of thing you can get away with in Cleveland, not LA. The Lakers are different. That franchise isn’t interested in quick-fixes that can help you compete for a title. No, in LA people don’t talk about single championships, they talk about dynasties. That means James has to build with these young guys.
Rather than trading for overpriced veterans, James’ job in LA is to help develop these guys to an All-Star level. That’s going to take time and will, at times, be incredibly frustrating. But the long-term rewards could also be greater.
It sounds like James stopped himself and realized just that the last time he got heated:
”I had to regroup and remember this is a young team. We’re playing some good ball right now and we’re starting to build some good habits. That’s all that matters right now.”
It won’t always be pretty, but LeBron and these young Lakers could build something phenomenal in LA.