LeBron James has acknowledged that he knew his young teammates would have a learning curve when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency last offseason.
But after a 128-115 loss to the woeful New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night, James bemoaned his teammates’ “sense of urgency.”
The Lakers have not made the playoffs since after the 2012-13 season. And with three losses in the past four games, their chances this season are fading.
And James, who has played in eight consecutive NBA Finals, showed his frustration after the most recent loss.
“How many know what’s at stake if you’ve never been there?” James pondered after Saturday’s loss to the Pelicans, who were playing without star Anthony Davis.
“I’m playing devil’s advocate, you know? It’s kind of a fine line when you talk about that, because when you’ve never been there or know what it takes to actually shoot for something like that, sometimes you’re afraid to get uncomfortable.
“So you got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. So I’m not saying that’s what we are as a whole. It kind of looks that way at times, that sometimes we’re afraid to be uncomfortable and kind of get out of our comfort zone and kind of, you know, have that sense of urgency from the jump, and not be afraid to actually go out and fail to succeed. So I mean, we have, what — 23 games left? We’ll see what happens.”
James has appeared in 239 playoff games and wants more. On Saturday, he seemingly remembered every loss of the season.
“The last few years, everyone’s so accustomed to the losses that I’m just not accustomed to,” James said. “I’m not accustomed to it. I will never get comfortable with losing. So losing Game 1 to Houston, it feels the same way as losing Game 59 in New Orleans to me. It’s just how I’m built. That’s who I am.”
Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, who has 105 career playoff appearances, said the team needs to “play for each other” more often.
“We have no other choice,” Rondo said “It’s either we do or we don’t. We do, we make the playoffs, and still with that mindset if we do, if we get in the playoffs we can easily get swept in four games.”
“So we have to start buying into the scouting report and start buying into each other and start to play for each other a lot more.”