LeBron James may be going into the 2021-22 basketball season with a second chip on his shoulder.
ESPN recently polled 10 NBA executives and scouts to get their opinions about a few hot-button topics ahead of next season, including the question of who is the best player in the league going into next season. James is going into his 19th season and has secured four NBA championship titles — two with the Miami Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers and one with the Los Angles Lakers — yet he did not secure a single vote for the best player. Instead, Milwaukee Bucks big man and 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant tied for best player with five points each.
James seemingly took the lack of votes personally and tweeted, “THANK YOU! As if I didn’t need more to ⛽️ ME! #Washed 👑.”
Although some critics argue James is not “washed,” others told the 36-year-old his glory days are behind him, tweeting, “Wouldn’t say washed, but on the way out the door” and “#WASHED! YOU OLD AS HELL MAN.”
Laker fans, however, were just as adamant as they supported James. Many argued that James is among the best players in the league, others said last season’s injuries prevented him from receiving votes. Other supporters kept their pride held just as high as their heads when raving about his skill on the court.
“Y’all done messed u and let a beast out!!! Keep that same energy when he win the title! Might even get MVP👀👀 @KingJames #Washed👑.”
“Let’s be clear…it’s nothing washed about @KingJames…bro been Goaty since he stepped in the league…this will be a great upcoming season 😤,” tweeted one person.
The supposed narrative about James being washed up began in 2019 when he joined the Lakers and failed to take the team to its 17th championship title. James did however come back the following season, amid the pandemic, and help the franchise secure the big win against the Miami Heat in theFinals. James made sure to take aim at those throwing dirt on his name with his postgame remarks.
“We just want our respect. Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect. Coach [Frank] Vogel wants his respect. Our organization wants their respect. Laker Nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect, too,” he said.
But after the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves knocked out of the 2021 NBA playoffs in the first round — a career first for James — general manager Rob Pelinka made sure he stacked the deck with pivotal trades during free agency. As a result, James and the Lakers picked up veteran players Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony.
The trade deals sparked an online storm of criticism with people dogging the Lakers for building an “old” team of veteran players in an attempt to win another championship — yet another chip on James’ shoulder.
The flood of commentary evoked a response from James, who tweeted, and deleted, “Keep talking about my squad, our personnel ages the way he plays, he stays injured,, we’re past our prime in this league, etc etc etc. Do me one favor PLEASE!!!! And I mean PLEASE!!! Keep that same narrative ENERGY when it begins! That’s all I ask. #ThankYou.”
There is no doubt Laker fans and critics will be watching NBA action closely this fall, beginning with the preseason tipoff on Oct. 3.