LeBron James won’t ‘cheat the game’ out of respect for ‘basketball gods’
LeBron James posted his eighth triple-double of the season with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in Sunday’s 111-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings, and the Los Angeles Lakers star stressed he’ll never treat the game with disrespect by giving anything but maximum effort.
“I would never cheat myself,” James said Sunday of his late-season play, via ESPN. “I know we’re out the playoff race, but if I’m on the court, I’m going to play how I play, and I play to win. So, I will never cheat the game.”
The first year of the LeBron era in L.A. has been nothing short of a huge disappointment. With a postseason berth out of reach, James and the Lakers at this point are only playing for pride.
James indicated he approaches these meaningless games in such a manner so not to tempt fate, saying he’s “always respected the basketball gods” and will “always try to play as hard as I can or do something to affect the game and not cheat the game.”
With the Lakers (32-41) playing out the string in a surprisingly lost season, James stressed how he is obligated to the fans to give a full effort regardless of less-than-ideal circumstances.
“Man, that’s just my love of the game. I owe it to myself, and obviously with the fans continuing to show up, they know we’re not making the playoffs; by me owing it to myself, it automatically gives to our fans when I’m out on the floor,” James said. “So, just appreciate them continuing to show up. I owe it to myself. As long I’m going to play this game, I’ve got to stay true to it.”
James also made it clear in an Instagram post Sunday that the Lakers’ struggles this season are an anomaly and an absence from the postseason will be short-lived.
The Lakers are expected to experience myriad changes in the coming offseason, including a likely coaching change and roster rebuild, although the latter may not go as well as originally believed, surprisingly due to James’ presence. That said, odds are James’ second season in Los Angeles will go much better than the forgettable first one. It would be difficult for things to go worse.