LeBron James looks like massive hypocrite for Play-In Tournament comments

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

After winning the first-ever In-Season Tournament MVP this season, there is a nonzero chance that the award will be named after the NBA's all-time leading scorer, LeBron James. And considering his team has been in the Play-In Tournament in three of the last four years, that should get renamed after the Los Angeles Lakers as well.

With Tuesday's loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers are officially locked into this year's Play-In Tournament. Los Angeles can still climb to the eighth seed to create an easier path but if the team is going to make the NBA Playoffs then it will need to follow a familiar path.

Considering the Lakers will probably fall outside the top-eight seeds, the play-in is the only reason why the team's season will continue past Sunday. With LA being a direct beneficiary of this system, LeBron James' previous comments bashing the (then-new) format look pretty hypocritical in hindsight.

James didn't just share his opinion about the play-in, he was fairly brash about just how much he didn't like it (h/t CBS Sports).

LeBron James looks extremely hypocritical for previous Play-In Tournament comments

The current version of the Play-In Tournament was first instituted in the 2020-21 season. As the seventh seed in the West, the Lakers played in the inaugural play-in (defeating the Golden State Warriors to advance to the NBA Playoffs).

This will be the fourth season with the Play-In Tournament and it will be the third time that the Lakers are participating. In 2023 the Lakers were once again the seventh seed and once again won in the team's first game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Granted, in the previous iteration of the playoffs the Lakers would not have needed to win an extra game as the seventh seed. But let's not forget that for most of the 2022-23 season, it looked like the Lakers were going to be a ninth or tenth-seed. A late surge moved the team up the standings, but the play-in suddenly became more appealing when it wasn't obvious that the Lakers would make that climb.

The Atlanta Hawks are the only other team in the league that will have three trips to the play-in in the four years that it has been a part of the schedule. So even though LeBron was its biggest critic, he remains the star player who plays in it the most.

Quite frankly, LeBron was wrong about the Play-In Tournament. Not only has it helped the Lakers the last two years, but it makes the end of the NBA season infinitely more interesting.