Magic Johnson Issues Firm Warning to NBA on Lakers’ LeBron James

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson

Getty Can LeBron James (right) and Russell Westbrook go on a second-half winning streak?

The Los Angeles Lakers had a disappointing first half of the 2021-22 season. They entered the All-Star break 27-31 and in ninth place in the Western Conference.

Still, the Lakers could be dangerous in the postseason — at least according to legend Magic Johnson — because of LeBron James, who is averaging 29.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists on the season.

Johnson had been critical of this year’s Los Angeles team after a 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on January 15. The five-time champion tweeted that night, “After being blown out by the Nuggets 133-96, we as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency. Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better.”

The Lakers are six games behind the Nuggets for the sixth seed in the West. To avoid the play-in tournament for the second straight season, Los Angeles would have to be one of the top six seeds in the conference. The LakeShow have 24 games left in the regular season.

Although they defeated the Utah Jazz, 106-101, on February 16 in their final game before the All-Star break, the Lakers suffered a devastating setback when Anthony Davis injured his right ankle. The team announced on February 17 that Davis will be out at least four weeks after an MRI showed he has a mid-foot sprain.

Johnson spoke to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated to offer his thoughts on the Lakers and the iconic point guard issued a warning to Western Conference teams on LeBron’s behalf despite the purple and gold being a below-average team.


Johnson: Nobody Wants to Face LeBron in the Playoffs

While Johnson has been disappointed by what he’s seen from the Lakers thus far this season, he’s still holding out hope for a second-half turnaround.

Magic told Spears that no team will want to face LeBron in the playoffs if Los Angeles gets out of the play-in tournament.

“If they can figure it out, I tell you this: Nobody’s going to want to face them because one thing about LeBron in that playoff, man, you know he comes with it when it’s the biggest moments,” Johnson said. “We just have to figure out who we are. And what we really going to have to do is really buckle down on the defensive end.”

LeBron has career playoff averages of 28.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists. He’s scored the most postseason points in NBA history and is first in playoff win shares. While the Akron Hammer is tough to beat in a seven-game series, he needs help from his supporting cast.


Johnson on Lakers: We Know They Got Talent; They Just Got to Find It

Johnson, who played his entire Hall of Fame career for the Lakers, believes there’s a great team in Los Angeles’ locker room and that it’s up to LeBron, Davis (when he comes back from his injury) and Russell Westbrook to lead the way and unlock the squad’s potential.

Johnson told Spears that the Lakers have enough talent on the roster to make a run in the second half. The 12-time All-Star and three-time Finals MVP wants the group to come together, especially on the defensive end. He also thinks Westbrook has to put his past struggles behind him.

“This team, we know they got talent,” Johnson said, “Now if they can just find their game, I tell you, they’re going to pose a lot of problems for teams. They just got to find it. They just got to find their game. Also, Russell [Westbrook], just be comfortable with how you have to play now. You can’t worry about how you played before, because that doesn’t matter. It’s about how can I help this team win and what do I have to do to help this team win.”

The Lakers will face the Los Angeles Clippers on February 25 in their first game after the All-Star break. We have seen a previous LeBron-led team go on a long winning streak in the second half of a season (the 2012-13 Miami Heat won 27 in a row in February and March 2013), so it will be interesting to see if this Lakers team goes on a run.

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Mark Neely
Mark Neely
7 months ago

Awesome

Kenny Robinson
Kenny Robinson
7 months ago

So IF the Lakers get on a run and win the majority of their remaining games or IF they get things CORRECTED during the play in tournament then MAYBE they are hard to stop IF LeBron can get things rolling … it MIGHT be just as interesting IF the Lakers are not in the playoffs… think about that POSSIBILITY

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