Moments after the Lakers sealed their first trip to the NBA Finals in a decade, Lakers star LeBron James decided to take a seat. Confetti fell from the ceiling of the AdventHealth Arena on the Disney World campus, as it would have done had the Lakers been at the Staples Center rather than in a fan-free, coronavirus-induced bubble environment in central Florida. James simply reached to his toes and stretched a bit.
Around him, his teammates were exchanging smiles and high-fives. Not James.
A simple stretch and a mostly bored look on his face—for James, it was not the usual we’re-going-to-the-Finals celebration. As James said, “Everything is different. It’s 2020, nothing feels the same.”
On Sunday, James posted a photo of his nonchalant midcourt sit-down on Instagram, noting, “Job Not Done.”
"Job Not Done"
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 27, 2020
LeBron James: Teammates, NBA Finals, Personal Journey in Mind
So what was going through James’ mind as he sat there? He explained after the game that his first thought was with the Nuggets and coach Mike Malone, who had been an assistant coach in Cleveland when James was in his first stint with the Cavaliers.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) September 20, 2020
But his thoughts moved on from there as he was drizzled with confetti:
I was also thinking about some of my teammates who this is their first appearance in the Finals. Obviously, AD (Anthony Davis), had a lot of my thought process and this is the reason I wanted to be a teammate of his and why I brought him here. I wanted him to see things he hadn’t saw before in this league. To be able to come through for him meant a lot for me personally.
Then I started thinking about the next opponent. Boston had a few moments in my head, Miami had a few moments in my head, as well, how challenging that series is going to be, whoever wins that next series and how challenging that’s gonna be. And then I just started thinking about my journey as well. All that was going through my mind as the confetti was on the floor, coming down, landing on my shoulder, things of that nature.
James, realizing he was waxing a bit poetic, ended by saying, “Hopefully that was a good description.”
LeBron James, Lakers Lament Not Being at Staples Center
Among the times that life in the bubble has been difficult for the Lakers, Saturday was one of the most prominent. Usually, winning a conference and being sent to the Finals is an outstanding opportunity to connect with fans on your home floor—and this game was technically a home game for L.A. When the Finals come around, the NBA takes over much of the process, including the ticketing, which means the dyed-in-the-wool ticket-holders are often shut out.
"I wish we were playing at Staples. We miss our fans so much … it probably would have blew the roof off Staples Center …"
—LeBron on AD's game-winning three pic.twitter.com/nXEGOjeP7u
— ESPN (@espn) September 21, 2020
The last game of the conference finals is the team’s best chance to thank a fan base before moving on to the more corporate championship round.
“The one thing I can say, I wish we was in the Staples Center tonight, with our fans, with our Laker faithful,” James said. “Because they deserve this as much as we do because they went through the last so many years of not being in the postseason and feeling like their franchise would never get back to this moment. But they continued to stay faithful. It would have been great to celebrate with them tonight.”