In his 20th NBA season, LeBron James is continuing to play at a very high level and put up the type of numbers everyone has been accustomed to seeing from him since his second year in the league.
Although the Los Angeles Lakers have won six of their last eight games, they’re far from being a championship contender. The team’s circumstances, which include the Russell Westbrook trade that James pushed for, have caused critics to claim the four-time MVP is merely out for his own glory and stats.
But in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James said personal accomplishments “don’t feel right” when they aren’t coupled with lots of winning.
“I want to win,” James said. “That’s not sitting well with me. I don’t like having accomplishments, and they don’t feel right when it comes in a losing effort.
“I’ve been trained and born to win. That’s how I started my basketball journey.”
Last season, as the Lakers lost games in bunches down the stretch and were eliminated from contention for the play-in tournament, James had the opportunity to win the scoring title, which would’ve been his second. Instead, he sat out the final five contests of the schedule.
“‘We’re not gonna make the playoffs no matter what,'” James remembered telling his inner circle late last year. “Me being out on the floor trying to go for a scoring record in games that don’t matter — it felt so corny to me. I was like, ‘I’m not gonna be able to qualify because I’m not gonna play any of these games.'”
The superstar has voiced his frustrations about the Lakers’ standing as a team and their apparent reluctance to give up any future first-round draft picks in order to make a trade that would bring them closer to championship contention.
Unless the team drastically improves, James breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time career scoring record, which is expected to happen within the next several weeks, may feel very empty for many fans.