When the Los Angeles Lakers scored LeBron James in free agency, they were prepared to kick off a new era of "Showtime" basketball after missing the playoffs for five straight years - the longest drought in franchise history.
The hope was to land a second star to immediately contend with the Golden State Warriors. However, they failed to do so, opting to spend their remaining cap space on one-year deals for aging veterans. Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant suggests the media hype behind James has become a deterrent and could make it difficult for the Lakers to find the four-time MVP a sidekick.
"So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people," Durant said, according to Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher. "He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I'm like, we're playing basketball here, and it's not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn't want to be in that environment because it's toxic. Especially when the attention is bulls--t attention, fluff.
"It's not LeBron's fault at all; it's just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball."
James spent the majority of the past eight seasons playing alongside All-Star caliber talent in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love - all of whom were forced to adjust their play style. Specifically Love and Bosh, who went from top options to mostly spot-up shooters to fit James' game.
"Kevin Love, he had to totally change his game to fit, to be a shooter," Durant said. "Which, I think, he deserves way more credit for switching his game. Bosh, same way. LeBron is a player that needs to play with guys that already know how they play the game and shooters. Like, young players that are still developing, it's always going to be hard because he demands the ball so much, he demands control of the offense and he creates for everybody."
James is taking on a heavy load for the Lakers' offense, with his usage percentage currently at 30.8. He also leads the team in minutes (34.6) and is the only Lakers player averaging over 20 points per game (27.8).
The Lakers (14-9) have recovered from their poor start, winning 12 of their last 16 games.