How Will LeBron James Respond to the Lakers’ Lost Season?

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I go back and forth on whether LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time. He’s unquestionably in my top two. Sometimes I’m convinced no one could do more things than him on a basketball court. Other times I remember Michael Jordan literally quit the sport before coming back to win three more championships. (Somehow we don’t talk about that enough..) What should have felt like a triumphant moment when LeBron passed MJ on the NBA scoring list was instead yet another sad moment in a bizarre season for James. It wasn’t a coronation; James was left to celebrate his accomplishment during a blowout, with a random smattering of teammates who don’t really have a connection to most of his career—with Rajon Rondo bafflingly the exception. The awkwardness of that moment, combined with the news the Lakers are most likely slowing James down as their playoffs hopes dwindle, left me wondering if there’s a glass half-full view of James’ L.A. situation.

This Lakers season has already felt like several different ones. They defied most expectations through Christmas, playing great defense en route to a four seed. Then there was the time Bron was hurt. Then there was the Anthony Davis saga. Then there was the failed postseason push. Each successive iteration was exponentially more depressing than the last, to the point where I feel at times genuine discomfort watching the guy who made eight straight Finals struggle to push his team ahead of a Marc Gasol-less Grizzlies squad. There was a time when the Hindenburg potential of the Lakers was captivating, but now that they’ve crashed, I feel kind of gross admiring the wreckage of the guy who’s created so many incredible basketball moments.

So in trying to take an optimistic view—maybe some good can come from what’s felt like a wasted year of LeBron’s c

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