"My kingdom for a teammate" LeBron's frustration in Cleveland
In the Cleveland Cavaliers opening playoff game LeBron James posted his usual dominating stat line, with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Despite James’s best efforts, however, his team lost in a blowout. With the possible exception of JR Smith none of his teammates played well and were out-worked for most of the game.
While a fair share of blame can and should be given to the abysmal performance of his teammates, LeBron handled the loss in a way that could haunt the team the rest of the playoffs. After it became clear the Cavs had no chance to win, LeBron came out of the game and went in to the locker room, leaving his teammates to finish out the garbage time without him. This created the impression that LeBron was disgusted by his teammates and wanted to make it clear that he was not one of them. On a team that has endured speculation about LeBron eminent free agency all year, a public sign of discontent is the last thing that will help in the playoffs.
Whatever happens this offseason, the Cavaliers are LeBron’s team for the duration of the playoffs. If he hopes to win he needs his teammates to play at a much higher level than they did in the first game. However, by walking off the court with time left on the clock he made that much less likely. If his teammates can tell that their best player is mentally checked out it is unlikely that we will see any kind of improved performance from Cleveland.