With the LeBron James era about to begin with the Los Angeles Lakers, we take a look at his the relationships he has had with his head coaches in the past.
Well Los Angeles Lakers fans, with media day being Monday, it sparks the unofficial LeBron James roller coaster ride that will carry us all around the NBA with stories of theories, rumors and drama that will make LaVar Ball jealous by Halloween.
First, the excitement was about the signing of that contract. Then it was all about James’ supporting cast and how the pieces will fit. Then the flow of attention was about the next superstar that would join LeBron in L.A.
But the funny thing that has basically stayed off the radar, for the most part, has been the relationship between LeBron James and head coach Luke Walton.
Forget what LeBron James does on the court. The Los Angeles Lakers will not have a chance if the best player (that being LeBron James) and the head coach (that being Luke Walton) are not on the same page. These two have to have almost a synergy on the floor that is hard to describe but is easy to see.
It’s not that there is any friction between the two…yet, but has anyone seen the player/coach relationship between James and Luke Walton? In the media you hear about the Magic Johnson and LeBron James partnership, but not much about the relationship with Walton.
You hear a lot of stories about the bonds forming between the players when it comes to LeBron James. Players like Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball. Shoot you’ve even heard LeBron speak on Lance Stephenson! LANCE STEPHENSON!
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Pay attention Lakers fans. Outside of having a conversation on how much he will play in the preseason, can you remember, in-depth, LeBron James even mentioning Luke Walton? If so, I REALLY MISSED it and you can tell me what was said in the comment section.
Let me give everyone a spoiler alert early… the Los Angeles Lakers will struggle early this season. My guess is the struggles will go through at least 20-25 games. Let’s assume the Lakers are around .500 or maybe below. Luke Walton might want to polish up the resume.
Sure… I remember Magic Johnson’s comments. Here they are courtesy of ESPN.
“As I was talking to Luke [with GM Rob Pelinka], we said don’t worry about if we get out to a bad start,” Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said Thursday as the team’s brass met with the media. “We have seen that with LeBron [James] going to Miami, and we have seen that when he came back to Cleveland. He is going to struggle because there are so many new moving parts. But eventually we are going to get it, and we are going to be really a good team.”
This is what we call in the sports world a vote of confidence. Yeah, it sounds good in the offseason, but if things aren’t going well…look for LeBron to be, well, let’s say concerned.
On paper, Luke Walton is probably the coach that can figure this jigsaw puzzle of a squad out. With the experience of playing under Phil Jackson and coaching under Steve Kerr, Luke Walton can produce wins and develop the young talent at the same time.
At least that’s what Lakers GM Rob Pelinka thinks…
“I think Luke is perfectly positioned because he understands the modern player,” said Pelinka, who said he also is excited about the depth the Lakers have amassed this offseason. “He’s young, he’s played at a high level, won championships, has a great way of communicating with people, has a genuine air and keeping guys engaged. We think our roster and its strengths actually lines up perfectly with our coach and his strengths.”
That’s fine too. Only one problem…LeBron James is a whole different situation altogether. The entire Lakers offense is changing to a scheme that James will be balking against in the beginning. Trust me it will happen. I’m not saying that LeBron James can’t adjust and adapt to not having the ball in his hands 24/7 but I’m saying he’s going to get tired of it.
Here’s where Luke Walton has to hold LeBron James accountable if he goes against the system that the Lakers have in place.
That’s when the fun starts…
LeBron James is a great player, an all-time great. That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t gotten coaches to disappear from benches throughout his career. Pay attention Luke, this is going to be a minute…
Coach Silas was the coach brought in to mentor LeBron James and show him the nuances of being a professional. In 2005, with the Cavaliers in the fifth spot in the conference with 18 games to go in the season fired Paul Silas. Brendan Malone was brought in to take over and the slide continued and the Cavs missed the playoffs. Granted Dan Gilbert just took the team over and his basketball decisions have been interesting in his own right.
But reportedly LeBron seemed to know that it was coming?
” You could kind of tell the way the air was, how things were going around here, there was going to have to be a change,” said James, who scored a franchise-record 56 points Sunday. “I didn’t know it was going to be this soon.”
Almost one month to the day after Silas’ firing, Cavs President and GM Jim Paxson got sent packing as well.
Dude got fired twice! By the same franchise! But let’s not feel bad for Brown though. He is currently residing on “Warriors Championship Bench Resorts” collecting rings.
But I digress…
Mike Brown’s firing was totally unfair and wrong. LeBron James may have not deserved ALL the blame for Brown’s firing, but James did little to help him keep his job. Remember this was around the time that LeBron James had his U-Haul loaded to go to South Beach and was laying out his outfit for The Decision show on ESPN.
This move was all done to try and convince James to stay considering that he was complaining about the offense and how the team needed to run more.
Again this can be attributed to Dan Gilbert, but by that time I would assume that Gilbert tried to get James’ input, but as we now know, silence from LeBron James is louder than that Kobe to Shaq alley-oop to send the Lakers to the NBA Finals when they beat Portland in seven games back in 2000.
Honorable mention…Byron Scott
I mention him because he got sold a bill of goods. After LeBron James left, just a shame. A crying shame.
Go ahead and say it. Erik Spoelstra didn’t get fired. Wasn’t like he didn’t try…check this out from THE MINORITY OWNER of the Miami Heat…
“LeBron James – before and after his four seasons when his contract was up with the team – made it clear that he wanted to dump head coach Erik Spoelstra,” Heat limited partner Raanan Katz told Israeli radio station 102FM while appearing on a panel with Bleacher Report’s David Pick. “At one point, (Heat president) Pat Riley called LeBron into his office said that no one will tell him how to run the organization. Riley told James that Spoelstra is his guy, and that firing Spoelstra is out of the question.
“That was the main reason LeBron returned to Cleveland.”
Oh, it gets better…
“LeBron screwed us badly,” Katz said. “We made the wrong decisions because of LeBron James – he told us to draft a point guard (Napier) who didn’t meet the expectations, but we chose him because that’s what LeBron wanted.”
Now to be clear Katz did retract his statement when he spoke to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel…
But if you want to see a pointed moment when James was in Miami, remember when he “bumped” Spoelstra during a game during a timeout?
Luke Walton…you make the call.
After being hired by the Cavs to develop the young players (does this scenario sound familiar?) LeBron James decided to come back to Cleveland. It took a while before the two started talking about the team or what color they liked (does this sound familiar?).
LeBron James did not fool a soul with his discontent for Blatt. Even though the Cavs made it the Finals against the LeBron bully…Golden State. No one really knew how strong this team was at that time because Kevin Love got hurt in the playoff run and Kyrie Irving‘s knee gave out in Game 1 of the Finals after giving Steph Curry the business.
But explain this. The Cavs are the number one seed going into the All-Star break the next year and Blatt gets fired. Sure Tyronn Lue came in and a Draymond Green brain cramp suspension gave the Cavs the momentum and the rest was history…BUT, Blatt still got fired.
The issue here, Lakers fans, is LeBron James’ attitude. No one can deny his passive-aggressive tendencies when dealing with coaches. Luke Walton is going to have his hands full dealing with the mood swings of LeBron James when things aren’t going well.
There is no denying this man’s talent. His presence alone will fill the Staples Center. That doesn’t mean his calm demeanor and “joy” won’t come with an expiration date.
To remind everyone of the Lakers mission statement…here’s the boss.
“We’re going to run,” Johnson said. “Whoever gets it, we’re gone. … We’ve got a number of ball handlers, that’s how we built this team. We won’t rely just on LeBron making all the shots for people — in terms of creating the shots for people or himself. We want him also to play off of it, but that’s on Luke. I’m not here to tell you how the offense is going to go because that’s not my job and that’s not Rob’s job. Luke will handle that situation and he’s already been thinking about ways and utilizing not just LeBron but everybody.”