Nuggets push Lakers season to the brink, but LeBron says it's "just basketball"

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three
Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The Nuggets went into Los Angeles on Thursday night and pushed the Lakers around for 48 minutes, winning game 3 of their first-round playoff series 112-105. With that, the Nuggets lead the series 3-0 and are now just one game away from a second straight 4-0 sweep of the Lakers in the playoffs.

For all the talk about this season being different and things changing this time around, this series is starting to feel eerily similar and is looking like a near carbon copy of last season’s series. 

After the disappointing loss, LeBron James pulled out a familiar trope in the press conference, choosing to lament on the game and series by saying “It’s just basketball. At the end of the day it’s just basketball”. This is classic LeBron rhetoric and a telltale sign that he has mentally accepted his and the Lakers’ fate.

When LeBron was on the Miami Heat, still trying to win his first title, the team lost in disappointing fashion to the Dallas Mavericks in the finals. After the loss, LeBron infamously faced the media and explained away the pathetic result and performance by turning the focus away from basketball.

"“At the end of the day all the people who are rooting for me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today, they got the same personal problems they had today.”"

LeBron James

This was all the way back in 2011 and was one of the earliest signs of LeBron trying to deflect attention away from his performance on the basketball court. It’s a classic tactic of his when things aren’t going well. 

He’s shown this side on occasion, and it’s almost always when faced with certain defeat. To me, this press conference and quote show that LeBron is making his way through the grieving process and has reached the point of acceptance.

He knows this series - and possibly even this iteration of the Lakers - and the season is over for him and the Lakers. He’s clearly trying to get out ahead of any potential media backlash or negative attention for his performance. I mean, who really cares about the NBA playoffs anyway? At the end of the day, it’s just basketball.