of the most powerful players in sports history, LeBron James is often in complete control of the narrative.
When it comes to this season’s Lakers, however, not even he can avoid accountability.
Speaking on Bill Simmons’ podcast this week, NBA Insider Ryen Russillo revealed a very interesting exchange between himself and LeBron James’ camp. According to Ryen, they trying to shift the narrative that the Lakers star advocated for the Russell Westbrook trade.
Simmons: “I think within 36 hours of that [Westbrook] trade, the ‘why didn’t you tell us this before’ piece, where the guy gets traded or leaves and all of a sudden, two days later, is a huge feature about what a pain in the a** the guy was and all the dysfunction behind the scenes. I don’t thin they can do that until they’re sure they can get rid of him.”
Russillo: “I have some thoughts on who’s gonna write it and I’ve already gotten pretty mad about it. I might say something. I already know that this is happening behind the scenes, the rumblings. Somebody talked to me about — it was almost like a test drive — with me, and I was like ‘no.’ I’m like ‘don’t even f*cking start with me on that LeBron wasn’t totally on board with this.’ Like, don’t even. Don’t tell me that. I don’t work on The Jump, that’s not happening. I’m almost now gonna have respect for the person that does it because it’s going to be so ridiculous…”
The sad truth is, “slander stories” have become a common practice in today’s NBA world. When James Harden left the Nets, for example, it was reported that everyone in the locker room hated had him from the start.
Could the same thing happen to Russell Westbrook? It’s certainly possible.
Regardless, the evidence is pretty clear that James spearheaded the 2021 offseason for L.A. and he cannot avoid blame for his part in this disastrous campaign. Multiple reports, at various points throughout the season, revealed that it was LeBron, not GM Rob Pelinka, who wanted Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in the Purple and Gold.
“Rob Pelinka wanted to and planned to trade for Buddy Hield but James & Davis encouraged him to go after Westbrook,” wrote NBA insider Marc Stein in January.
Even without the records, it would be hard to believe a player as powerful and talented as LeBron James doesn’t have a significant say in the team’s decision-making.
Nonetheless, at the end of the season, James and his camp will be working tirelessly to deny his involvement in the Westbrook trade and pin blame on anyone else in the organization.
This time, he may find it near impossible to tip the narrative in his favor.