Down Goes the King


This year’s NBA playoffs will be missing the game’s biggest star, LeBron James. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Stephen Lebitsch

For the first time since the 2004-2005 season, the NBA Playoff bracket will not showcase a Lebron James-led team.

In his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, which has been nothing but disappointing, Lebron James has had to carry a load heavier than even he can at age 34.

The Lakers came in with a talented roster, but injuries and off-the-court issues quickly piled up. Despite bringing in supplementary players like Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee, the team still struggled to regain its historical place in the Western Conference.

Now, the result that everyone’s been expecting for weeks has finally come to fruition.

This past Friday, still fresh off a season series sweep by the New York Knicks on March 17 thanks to a Mario Hezonja block, the Brooklyn Nets best the Lakers 111-106, officially eliminating them from playoff contention.

This is not to say that the game was a complete disaster for Lebron James and his team. LA started off strong with a series of back and forth scoring runs with the Nets thanks to Lebron and McGee. The two would finish the game with 25 and 33 respectively while also racking up 29 combined rebounds.

However, after exiting the first half with a one-point lead, things did not go the same way in the second half. The game was all Brooklyn through most of the final 24 minutes as guards D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris took over and showed the offensive prowess they have been displaying all season. In a game he took personally, Russell dropped 21 points and 13 assists while Harris had 26 points and two assists.

Things got interesting in the final minutes, but in the end, it was Brooklyn that would leave victorious and continue its surprising season heading towards the playoffs.

The elimination marks the end of James’ streak of 13 straight playoff appearances, six seasons short of the record of 19 held by John Stockton and Karl Malone. During those thirteen years, James made the NBA Finals eight times and won three of them in 2012, 2013 and 2016 respectively.

In order to grasp just how incredible and long lasting of a feat this was, here are some interesting facts regarding Lebron’s last playoff absence:

When James last missed the playoffs with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2004-2005, Allen Iverson was the NBA’s scoring champion, Lakers head coach Luke Walton was in his second season in the league, and the Seattle Supersonics made their final playoff appearance.

Following the disappointing game on Friday, LeBron spoke with the media about the game, the final possession, in which he slipped along the baseline and caused a turnover, and his refusal to let the product of the current season get to his head.

“Obviously, it’s been a tough season for all of us,” James said in the post-game presser. “It’s not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happened. Suspensions, injuries, things of that nature. And just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes.”

He also emphasized that the Lakers just need to “try to get better tonight, move on to tomorrow, and go from there. Playoffs are never promised.”

Lebron will have a longer offseason this summer to think about how to make himself and his team better.