By now, the entire world has seen the footage of the fight between Rajon Rondo of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets. But what has gone unnoticed to some is what happened while the melee was going on. Where was LeBron James?
The incident began when James Harden drove the lane and was fouled by Brandon Ingram. Out of frustration, Ingram shoved Harden and that set off a chain of events which led to the scuffle. Was Ingram right for shoving Harden? Yes and no. Harden is good for pushing off and Ingram took offense to that. What Ingram has to understand is that while the game was in L.A., Harden is still a superstar in the league and will get that call 99 percent of the time.
But still, the refs have to do something about that and Ingram felt slighted by Harden’s actions. What Ingram did was show the heart the Lakers have been missing since the departure of Kobe Bryant.
But this is where things took a nasty turn, not only for Rondo and Paul, but for LeBron as well. The relationship between LeBron and Paul is well documented. They are great friends off the court with Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade being included in that small group. But LeBron is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and must align his loyalty to his “new family.” He didn’t.
Now, some may argue that James had only a split second to make a decision but in that split second, LeBron James chose to pull his friend away from the scuffle instead of protecting his teammate. Yes, there should be no fighting in the game but check the video. Lakers were grabbing Lakers and LeBron was grabbing a Rocket.
Despite the scoring, rebounding, and assists LeBron brings to the Lakers, he’s the leader of this team and must conduct himself as such at all times. When Rondo and Paul got into it, LeBron was right there. Ingram was at half-court and managed to run into the middle of the fight to protect Rondo. Why didn’t James do the same?
The season is 82 games long and no matter his place among the NBA legends, LeBron’s loyalty should belong to all members of the Purple & Gold, not his off-the-court-friendships. Chris Paul and James Harden are not suiting up to help the Lakers win another title. This is what separates the players from the early years of the league and those today.
What Was LeBron James Thinking?
Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas were best friends at one point but the love for their teams broke the bond. While it would take years for them to reconcile, they both knew they were doing what was best for their teammates. This is what LeBron has to come to terms with. He’s new there and must earn that respect.
I doubt if any of the Lakers will call LeBron James out on his actions but someone has to. They have to know that he has their back and will not value friendship over teammates. In life, you get one chance to make a first impression and LeBron blew his. We’ve heard the rumors that he’s not that great of a teammate or as coachable as he should be, given his status. But when will it change?
In his defense, he reacted fast and maybe, just maybe, he was trying to do the right thing and defuse the situation. But if that’s the case, then shield your teammates from the ref’s wrath and not the opposing player. Rondo is a hothead and has no problem being vocal with his feelings. When the suspensions are handed down and players can take a moment to review the tape, all hell could break loose.
The Lakers have started the season 0-2 and something like this could tear the team apart before the season even sets in. This is not on Ingram or Rondo. Ingram got heated because Harden got away with the mid-air shove. Rondo came to his rescue, then Ingram came back to help Rondo. This is what teammates do for one another. LeBron James has to learn that.