Column: Lakers snub Kyrie Irving and annoy LeBron James. Good for them
The tweet appeared within hours of the news that the Lakers had not been able to pull off a trade for Kyrie Irving.
The tweet was from LeBron James, who had openly campaigned for Irving despite overwhelming evidence he would be a bad fit.
The tweet, as usual, was a passive-aggressive shot at Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka.
“Maybe It’s Me,” James declared Sunday afternoon.
No maybes about it.
It is him.
LeBron James has been such a horrible general manager that the Lakers would be fools to allow him to continue making the trades.
His support of Irving wasn’t the main reason the Lakers lost the Irving bidding to the Dallas Mavericks, but it sure didn’t help.
As he tenaciously and incredibly and inspirationally approaches Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record, off the court James is unfortunately also approaching the record for being a Lakers all-time pain.
He pushed for an Anthony Davis trade that, despite leading to one bubble championship, has ruined the Lakers’ immediate future.
The Brooklyn Nets traded All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and draft picks.
He pushed for a Russell Westbrook trade that has ripped apart the Lakers’ present.
And now he’s mad that the Lakers didn’t follow his advice and acquire the NBA’s absolute worst teammate, a selfish and antisemitic eccentric who would leave the Lakers in complete ruins?
As the creator of a trio that makes $150 million and is in 13th place, James no longer has any right to demand that the Lakers sacrifice even more of their tattered future for the sake of a few more wins now.
The Lakers’ front office made the right move in refusing to give up the Nets’ demands that reportedly included Westbrook, two first-round picks, Austin Reaves and Max Christie.
And the Lakers’ front office would have every right to be irritated with how James put them through the wringer on this.
Shortly after Irving requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, James tweeted out the eyeballs emoji.
That signified James wanted to be reunited with one of the NBA’s best point guards even though Irving has proven to be the league’s biggest headache.
Then, on Saturday night in New Orleans, when James was asked by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin whether Irving was the sort of player to help the Lakers reach the finish line, he initially deferred to Pelinka but then added, “Obviously that’s a — what’s the word you use? — ‘duh’ question when you talk about a player like that.”
His ensuing tweet Sunday afternoon implied that his Lakers’ bosses are dumber than “duh” when, in fact, they are being charged with the seemingly impossible task of digging out of the mess he created for them.
This sort of sniping has been going on all season, public challenges for the front office to save a season that has long since been lost.
Two months ago, after being asked by Times columnist Dylan Hernández whether he was concerned that the latest Davis injury would affect future trade talks, he answered as he was leaving the interview room.
“Go ask Rob those questions,” he said playfully, although it turns out he wasn’t playing.
Last month, when asked about trades by the Athletic’s Sam Amick, James replied, “Y’all know what the f— should be happening. I don’t need to talk.”
No, of course, talk is not needed when tweets will do the trick.
Seriously, you don’t really think they should have traded for Irving, do you? The guy burns every place he has been with trade demands and sudden departures. The guy costs his most recent team numerous games by refusing a COVID vaccine. And, oh yeah, the guy was suspended this season for promoting a movie containing antisemitic themes.
Even if his powerful point guard play would help pull them into the playoff picture this season, he would demand a four-year deal this summer, and there’s no way the Lakers could entrust the leadership of their franchise to him for even four minutes.
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The Lakers made the right move. James clearly believes it was the wrong move. One can now wonder where this is all heading.
There will be an appropriate and deserved celebration this week at Crypto.com Arena when James breaks Abdul-Jabbar’s record. James has been nothing short of brilliant in his five Lakers seasons— unselfish, uncompromising, worthy of every decibel of the standing ovation he will receive.
But once the confetti is swept up, the focus will switch from James the Historic Player to James the Failed Executive and you wonder: How much can either side tolerate?
Having admitted that he’s unhappy with his Lakers bosses, will James be eager to finish out the final two years of his Lakers contract? Is there a chance this summer that he demands to be traded?
Having endured constant slings and stings from James, might the Lakers’ front office be willing to accommodate such a request?
Even during a week teeming with legend and legacy, one thing is perhaps worth remembering.
Even the biggest of NBA giants is not bigger than the Lakers.
In refusing to give up the required price in a trade for Kyrie Irving, the Lakers finally proved this.
Now it’s up to LeBron James to deal with it.
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