The Los Angeles Lakers are in dire need of more leadership from their stars including LeBron James according to Hall of Famer Laker James Worthy.
Have the Los Angeles Lakers hit rock bottom? Hard to tell.
The question has been asked frequently. Their current record, 26-31, 9th place in the Western Conference is statistically their lowest point of the year.
The high watermark of the season came back on Dec. 15 when the Lakers won their third game in a row beating Dallas to rise to16-13. That preceded a 5-game losing streak that included 18-point losses to Minnesota and a 28-point home drubbing by San Antonio.
LeBron James led the Lakers in scoring in every one of those losses. He leads the team in nearly every category–points, rebounds, steals, blocks. Simply incredible at 37-years old.
But, something is missing according to 3-time NBA champion and Hall of Fame Laker James Worthy.
“His (LeBron) play has been pretty good when you look at stats but when you look at impactful, how many defensive assignments are you missing?,” James Worthy told FanSided’s Da Windy City podcast. “There are a lot of things I see that all players, including LeBron, are just blatantly obvious on defense that they have to change.”
The Lakers have been losing close games as of late– four of their last six losses have been by three points or less. The frustration is noticeable.
“I see a lot of hands up, what happened, a lot of people looking at each other pointing fingers but I don’t see that making your teammates reliable, making him responsible and that’s what corporate teams and corporations do,” Worthy said. “They monitor each other. You don’t mind somebody shaking their finger at you every now and then and saying hey we gotta make this work. I don’t see that, I see a whole lot of, boy what happened their game after game after game.”
Worthy is looking for more attention to detail, more leadership, more uncomfortable conversations. Perhaps even off the bench.
“I think one of the better spokespersons on the team is Carmelo (Anthony),” Worthy said. “He has been around, he really forces his opinion sometimes I think during the game right on spot. Sometimes it takes meeting in the locker room, sometimes it takes right there at that moment.”
Ultimately, there is no dodging who is responsible for the team’s success.
“LeBron is the captain, he is the spokesperson in that locker room and that’s where they have to have the meeting of the minds,” Worthy said. “That responsibility does fall on him. Magic Johnson would have that responsibility. Magic would say look guys, we’ve gotta do this, we’ve gotta do that, this is how we are going to do it. A lot of this falls on his shoulders, but a lot of it falls on these veteran players.”
Worthy is empowering James to take more control. He is also imploring James to get more buy-in from his teammates to make a turnaround possible.
“The other day he said he was going to talk to Westbrook, they are going to text each other they are going to talk so I’m assuming there is some engagement,” Worthy said. “How it is being conveyed I don’t know, but it’s critical. Your leader has to lead not only by example but he has to engage in understanding the personalities on the team. They look to LeBron, the thing is Westbrook is a leader too.”
The Lakers shockingly stood pat at the trade deadline. Westbrook will be here until the end of the season. The pairing of the two was curious at best considering both James and Westbrook love to have the ball in their hands.
“That was the challenge when you bring in a dynamic pair like that,” Worthy said. “I liked what we had because we traded away our defensive heart. When you look at what Brooklyn was doing, when you look at what Golden State getting their swag back, I guess they wanted to make sure they could keep up with that. When you bring in Westbrook the challenge was going to be Westbrook is not like you’re off-guard shooter he does need the ball. I was like ok they know that this is going to be one of their biggest challenges, they have to be willing to sacrifice. I don’t see it yet.”
If this was an NBA JAM game few Lakers diehard gamers would pick James and Westbrook to play with unless they somehow get their ability to play together turned around.
James Worthy is teaming with Michelob ULTRA and their fire partnership with NBA JAM encouraging fans to “Enjoy it Like It’s 1993” by bringing the joy of the game to life both virtually and on-the-ground in Cleveland during All-Star weekend.