Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks

LeBron James gets ripped by Walt Frazier during Lakers-Knicks game

Sunday’s Knicks-Lakers game was mostly uninteresting, but Knicks’ legend Walt Frazier levied some due criticism on LeBron James.

Most of the time, a Los Angeles Lakers-New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden would carry a certain level of buzz. But with two teams that would surely like to lose, so as to bolster draft lottery odds, not even LeBron James being on the floor was able to salvage the majority of Sunday’s game (a 124-123 Knicks’ win).

If James were not who he is, he’d easily be labeled as a coach-killer who allows teammates to buckle under the burden of expectations that come with his presence. His first year in Los Angeles has been no different, with Luke Walton not long for his job as head coach and virtually everyone else on the roster rumored to be in some sort of trade offer for Anthony Davis before the deadline.

James often looks disengaged during timeouts, clearly not paying attention to the coach, deep in his own thoughts. He did it openly again on Sunday afternoon, sitting far away from teammates. Knicks analyst Walt Frazier, a Hall of Famer as a player for the Knicks, pulled no punches with his criticism.

To be fair, James was not on the floor coming out of that timeout and he probably had little to offer in that specific circumstance anyway. But Frazier was well-reasoned and avoided sounding too old-school with his comments, suggesting James should at least appear publicly to be engaged with the rest of the team. Frazier’s punchline says it all — “He doesn’t really care.”

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If James cared deeply about how things looked to others all the time, as is the case for all public figures, he’d drive himself crazy. But Sunday’s optics were not good, as he continues to show he has little use for yet another coach he didn’t pick and a set of teammates he may not want. Frazier chose to call the behavior out, in a fashion rarely done in the moment during a game broadcast.

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