By H. Esteves
This photo is taken from an article appropriately titled “Lebron’s miss before the half summed up Los Angeles Lakers’ year”. Heading into his 20th year, Lebron is having some justifiable difficulty in getting any steam going with his team. At the time of writing, the Lakers are standing well below .500 (or in other words, are losing more than winning) and are in the 13th place of the Western Conference (out of 15 teams). Additionally, despite promising moves at the trade deadline, a win streak to push to the playoffs looks unlikely, especially according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, who stated that Lebron’s foot injury could be something that “lingers all season long”. That is disappointing to say the least, as devoted and casual fans have created the expectation that any team with Lebron becomes an immediate championship contender.
Those expectations are harsh, but, well, fair. Out of 19 seasons, Lebron went to the finals 10 times and 8 of those were back-to-back (2011-2018). It became commonplace to have Lebron in the finals, or at least a very close contender, but in the past few seasons that is beginning to change. In 2020-21 the team had a quick first round exit, and last season they didn’t even make the playoffs.
This all raises the question, is the Lebron James Era over? Are there actually winds of change through the NBA? And can we truly put our memories of the 2010s behind us?
Kevin Durant is 34. So is Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. Chris Paul is 37. The greatest stars of the past few years are aging, and now maybe we can see a much, much different NBA with new stars rising to the helm. Actually, that is already happening. The Denver Nuggets, who lead in the West with a strong 41-18 record, have an average age of only 26 years old. These facts are daunting for long-time fans, but also exciting. Never has there been a time of more uncertainty and parity in the NBA. Any team can make the finals, anyone can be champion. Every game is crucial and can powerfully affect the teams’ standings. And as fans of the game, what more could we possibly ask for?