With the coronavirus’ social distancing guidelines remaining in place until at least Apr. 30 and the sports world still at a halt, Americans will have to continue to wait to see their favorite athletes such as Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James perform.
Leagues like the NBA and NHL may have to chalk the remainder of their seasons, although both are looking for ways to circumvent a cancellation, which for the Association, includes playing games at a neutral site such as an arena in Las Vegas.
In a conference call with a select group of media members, James said that he would have a difficult time dealing with the rest of the 2019-20 NBA campaign being squashed.
LeBron James stressed that safety is most important. But LeBron admitted, "I don't think I'll be able to have any closure if we're not able to finish the season."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 8, 2020
James, who is in his 17th NBA season, was averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists per game for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seeded Lakers before play stopped.
After failing to clinch a playoff berth in his first year with the Purple & Gold, the #WashedKing, along with running mate Anthony Davis, had Los Angeles positioned to make an NBA Finals run.
Not only were the 49-14 Lakers closing in on the Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) for the best record in the league, James had shrunken the gap in the MVP race between him and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, as the Lakers were surging post-All-Star break, including wins over Giannis’ Bucks and the cross-hall rival Los Angeles Clippers.
It makes sense that there would be a sense of un-fulfillment for James if the season was washed away. His 2018-19 journey with the Lakers was unusual, as he not only missed the playoffs for the first time in forever, but he was shelved with an injury for a significant time, something we’re not used to from James.
James used LA’s down season and the murmurs of doubt from his detractors as fuel for this year, and he and the Lakers had set the league ablaze led by their superstar duo of James/Davis and tough-nosed, heady veterans such as Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and the GOAT.
They had converted almost everyone, including fellow players, into believers as title favorites as it appeared that they were starting to separate themselves from the rest of the title favorite pack, which also included the aforementioned Bucks and Clippers. This makes it understandable why losing this season would be so tough to stomach for James.
To have all of their championship-hopeful work undone by an unexpected virus is like getting to the end of a video game, being forced to pause before facing the final boss and having your console shut off just to realize the game didn’t save.
Brutal. You don’t wanna have to star that thing over. You wouldn’t even be able to. You’d be too disgusted.
In 2020-21 the Lakers will again have to compete against a stacked Western Conference, one that will include a healthy Golden State Warriors team in addition to squads like the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, all who will be aggressive in beefing up their roster whenever we do have an offseason.
We also cannot forget that Father Time remains undefeated, and although LeBron has done a remarkable job of dodging him thus far, one has to wonder how much longer he’ll be able to stave him off.
He has a habit of unexpectedly creeping up on you and putting you in an unforgiving chokehold. We’ve seen it happen to so many of our favorites. Who says he’s going to spare LeBron James?
However, I’ve been on record saying that LBJ could be one of those rare athletes that walk away from the game and leaves us wondering not only if he still had some left to give, but exactly how much. That’s just a testament to his open defiance of Ol’ Father Time.
If play were to resume this season, it’s hard to say how things would look.
Would the Lakers be able to recapture the post-All-Star Break mojo they had humming? They were a team that prided themselves on chemistry, and no that doesn’t just disappear, but basketball is one of the most rhythmic sports there is. Would they be able to re-connect with each in time for a deep playoff run?
If any team can overcome those odds it’s one spearheaded by LeBron James, but these questions are fair and still must be asked.
At the end of the day, we just want sports back. As the nation continues to be circled by uncertainty, one has to wonder if we’ll see a resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, and if so what will the circumstances be in terms of fan attendance? What would it mean for the future outlook of the league in terms of scheduling?
Maybe we won’t see the NBA get the ball rolling again until 2020-21. That would stink, but health and safety have to be prioritized above all as we look to overcome this pandemic, which I’m sure LeBron James understands.