SportsPulse: It’s no secret that Lebron James and the Lakers are trending in the wrong direction this year and Jeff Zillgitt tells us why this might just be the most underwhelming season of his career.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers appear more likely to miss the playoffs after every game. They’ve lost five in a row and seven of their last eight after Saturday night’s 120-107 defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Los Angeles is still mathematically alive, but at seven games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference with 16 to play, the chance is incredibly slim.
The Lakers’ misery is going to elicit very little pity among fans outside their own. However, at least one person is feeling some sympathy for James and company: His former teammate Kyrie Irving.
“I feel for him,” Irving said after Boston’s win at Staples Center. “Obviously just missing a lot of time, as well as Brandon Ingram. But Bron as always been a championship contender. An he’s such a great player, such a great teammate. When you’re not eligible to qualify for the playoffs, it’s hard, I can only imagine. Like I said, I feel for him.”
James’ teams have made the postseason in each of the last 13 seasons. Barring a late turnaround, James will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05 — his second season in the league.
An equally impressive streak also set to end is James’ run of eight consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. Irving was James’ teammate for three of those appearances with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-17, including the 2016 championship.
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Despite a falling out, the pair has appeared to patch things up this season. In January, Irving notably told reporters that he called James to apologize for being a young player who didn’t quite understand what James was experiencing as a veteran leader.
Irving’s postgame comments echoed those he made before the game in an interview with The Athletic in which he called criticism of James in Los Angeles “a little unfair because of how much time he missed.”
“I feel for him. I really do. I feel for him,” Irving told The Athletic. “I’m very empathetic towards it because how much he wanted to play during that time when he messed up his groin.”
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.
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