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    COLUMN: As Lakers fade, LeBron rants against play-in format

    May 3, 2021
    PHOTO: AP
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    CHICAGO - There used to be just three.

    Mark Cuban. Luka Doncic. Draymond Green.

    Thanks to LeBron James, the carpool lane in the expressway of grievances just got a little crowded. And noisier, too.

    After the Lakers fell to Toronto today, 121-114, dropping them to sixth place in the Western Conference standings, James became angrily critical of the NBA's play-in tournament where his team appears headed to given their recent decrepit performances.

    "Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired," he told ESPN.

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    I understand that airing out complaints is a hallmark of a robust democracy, but why just now, Bron?

    We sure didn't hear about this displeasure when the Lakers were 21-6 in February and looking so almighty, did we?

    Last March 2020 this is what LeBron told The Road Trippin Podcast with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.

    "One thing you can't do is go straight to the playoffs, because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position."

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    Apparently, LeBron is only a fan of the play-in tournament as long as his team ain't in it.

    But what can I say, the guy likes to double clutch his lay-ups. Maybe he likes talking out of both sides of his mouth, too.

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      Look, if LeBron is really against this format, he should have let his sentiments be known before the measure was passed unanimously by the NBA's Board of Governors -including the Lakers' - last November 17.

      If you knew a movie is bad based on poor Rotten Tomatoes reviews and you still watched it anyway, that's on you. Get off my couch and stop screaming at Netflix for streaming it.

      BESIDES THE POOR TIMING, LEBRON IS BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE HERE.

      The problem lies with the Lakers. Nowhere else.

      They have lost six of their last seven games and the last two were especially damaging and demoralizing because it happened at home at Staples Center against the Kings and Raptors, two sub-par squads that have accumulated a combined 75 defeats.

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      If you can't hold serve against inferior competition in your backyard, you have no business being in the playoffs to begin with.

      To make matters worse, the Lakers play again tomorrow in Denver against the surging Nuggets and James won't probably be in it with a sore ankle.

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      Ah, this explains the sore mood in the post-game press conference.

      I don't necessarily consider Kyle Kuzma as the warm glove on a frigid day but his honesty was comforting at a time of great confusion. This is what he believes is tainting their purple-and-gold.

      "I just don't think we're connected right now. I think we're unhealthy and just not good enough. We're just not together as a whole - team, staff, everything."

      Whoah, staff?

      What does that mean?

      Bad pre-game meal, not enough towels?

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        Anyway, Kuzma was smart not to criticize the NBA and avoid a hefty fine. But he didn't mind throwing everyone in the Lakers payroll under the bus. He also forgot to mention that maybe they're not good enough because he is on the team and signed to three years and $40 million.

        Through fun times and bad, the Lakers never disappoint when it comes to supplying us with Hollywood drama.

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        So let's get the party started. Close the blinds and paste this sign on the shut doors.

        Therapy in session.

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        PHOTO: AP
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