We’ve been cheering him on or booing him (or both if you’re me and have been converted) for the past 14 years during the playoffs. And now we won’t be.
What do you think he’ll do instead? Go wine-tasting? Ride a banana boat with his pals? Take his kids to Disneyland?
At first, I was bummed about the idea of a LeBron-less playoffs this year. But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.
Variety is the spice of life
It’s true! And aren’t we all tired of the Warriors and whatever team LeBron is on being in the finals?
I’ll admit, I was hopeful that LeBron would be able to pull a…well, LeBron, and help a not-so-great team somehow make it to the playoffs. The Cavs are tied for the second-worst team in the league just one season after James bounced.
It’s unrealistic, albeit noble, to expect him to be able to do that every single year, especially as he gets older. So, though we won’t get to see LBJ bring his team back from a 3-1 deficit, we’ll get the chance to see some new teams battle for the championship. And that’s exciting.
This season has been a lot of fun to watch, largely because of the fact that it wasn’t a bunch of games leading to the Cavs and Warriors in the finals…again. So many teams and players stepped it up and surprised fans – I knew the Bucks would be good, but I didn’t know they’d be this good. And the fact that the Kings nearly made the playoffs after their abysmal season last year? And DeAngelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets?! COME ON.
Make it about the game
Look, I know that the NBA is about money. I know the players get paid an insane amount of money to play a game. When I think about the fact that LeBron James gets paid over $460,000 per game I don’t know if I want to laugh or cry.
The NBA capitalizes on celebrity, and James is, without a doubt, the biggest star in the league on one of the biggest franchise teams. So, yeah, having the Lakers in the playoffs would probably have been idea. But do I think that ratings will really suffer because he’s not in the playoffs? Eh, not really.
When I lived in New York from 2011 to 2015, I used to stream almost every Brooklyn Nets game (note: they were not great). And even I, had to turn off some of the Laker games this season. It was depressing to watch James attempt to lead his struggling teammates. So, as much as I love watching LeBron do his thing, I don’t necessarily want to watch the team kill themselves trying and failing to beat the Rockets, Nuggets or Warriors in the first round.
The playoffs should be about the teams good enough to make it this far, even if that means their star of the moment is Danilo Gallinari – not the team that has the star of the next Space Jam movie on the roster.
LeBron gets some time off
Again, this is James’ first season missing the playoffs in 14 years. That’s a long-ass time. In those 14 years he made it to the finals 9 times. Now, LeBron is in such insane shape I question whether or not he’s completely human, but that must be taxing, even for him.
This summer, LeBron gets some time off to “rest” and get his body back into competitive condition after his injury earlier this season. He’ll also have time to help the Lakers add another star to their roster and start filming Space Jam 2.
The question is, will James be able to get past this one bad season, or will it turn into two or three? There’s been talk of Luke Walton getting fired as head coach of the Lakers, but now that Magic Johnson has stepped down, it’s more unclear what will happen.
I’m excited to see what will happen with the Lakers during the offseason, but I’m more excited to see how the league’s young stars will handle these playoffs.
My prediction for the finals: Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks. Who am I rooting for? Do you even have to ask?