James Worthy Blasts Lakers Ahead of NBA All-Star: ‘Worst I’ve Seen in My Time’

James Worthy, Lakers

Getty James Worthy, Lakers

It has not been an easy year for any Lakers fan, but if you’re a franchise icon and a former No. 1 pick of the team—as well as a postgame studio analyst—it’s been downright brutal. And that’s the position that NBA legend James Worthy has been in throughout the mess that has been the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers season.

Worthy has not been shy in his criticism of the team, and in a chat with Heavy.com this week, he was not much more hopeful. “They’re not playing hard enough,” he said. “It looks pretty bleak at the moment.”

Indeed. The Lakers are 26-31, ninth in the Western Conference. That is good enough to keep them alive in the race to stay in the play-in tournament, but they remain six games out of the No. 6 seed—where they’d need to land to get out of the play-in altogether.

Not what was expected of a team that added a future Hall of Fame guard, Russell Westbrook, to a core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis before the season.

“Extremely disappointed in where we are,” Worthy told Heavy.com. “A lot of hype and when you have a trio of players coming in that we had in AD, LeBron and Westbrook, you’re thinking that things are going to be pretty good. But unfortunately, they never have found any type of cohesiveness or identity. I think the adjustment for Westbrook has been the toughest he’s had to make. And unfortunately, it hasn’t jelled.”


 

While it was a bit shocking to many that the Lakers stood pat at the NBA trade deadline last Thursday, Worthy was not surprised. The only real transaction he saw available to the Lakers was a deal for John Wall, and that was more of a lateral move.

The problem is within the roster itself, and bringing in Wall was not going to change that.

“I don’t know that the issue is trading,” Worthy said. “I think the issue is making what you have work and finding a way to play defense. That is not a coaching thing to me. That’s a player, a locker room thing—you’ve got to decide you want to do it. But something else is just not clicking with this team, and it’s the worst I’ve seen in my Laker time.”

That does not mean this is the worst team Worthy has seen since he has been associated with the Lakers—rather, it means the effort and hustle has been the worst, which is why he, and so many fans, are disappointed in what they’re seeing. The gap between where this team should be and where it is remains significant.

Said Worthy:

Should be a better team, there are areas they can look at after each game—when you’re turning the ball over, when you’re getting beaten on fast-break points, when you’re getting outrebounded, you’re getting beat in the paint. When you’re turning the ball over and they’re scoring a lot of points on your turnovers, that means you’re not hustling. That means your head is somewhere else. The great equalizer, if you’re not shooting the ball well and you’re lacking players is, you’ve got to play hard. That takes care of a lot of things. They made the trades and they lost a big part of the defense that they have yet to recover.

 

On a happier note, Worthy is heading to Cleveland for the 2022 NBA All-Star weekend, which he has not attended since the game was in Los Angeles in 2018. He will be part of the NBA’s 75th anniversary celebration, where he will be honored among the 75 greatest players in league history.

He is also working with Michelob Ultra on a project to bring back the fun of the old NBA Jam TV show, which will include interactive fan opportunities at the Boom Shaka Laka Barcade and performances from D.J. Jazzy Jeff and rapper Fat Joe.

He will also coach one of the Rising Stars teams.

“First of all, it is the 75th anniversary of the NBA, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen as part of that, so we will be celebrating that,” Worthy said. “In addition to that, Michelob Ultra has asked me to come and help them reignite the NBA Jam glory days. So there will be some festivities that I will be involved in. … It will be fun. I don’t go a lot, not like I used to.”

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