LeBron James Says Lakers' Losing 'Not Sitting Well with Me' amid Scoring Record Chase

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 7, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 6: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on January 6, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

At age 38, with 20 years of NBA basketball under his belt, LeBron James has no interest in continuing to play the game just to set individual records.

"I want to win," James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "[The losing is] not sitting well with me. I don't like having accomplishments, and it don't feel right when it comes in a losing effort. ... So as we sit here right now as a franchise and as a team that's below .500β€”we've been playing some good basketball as of late, but we want to and I want to win at the highest level. Breaking records or setting records or passing greats in a losing effort has never been a DNA of mine."'

James' tenure in Los Angeles has been more famine than feast. Aside from the Lakers' 2020 championship, they have missed the playoffs twice and were eliminated in the first round once over his first four years with the franchise.

Sitting at 18-21, the Lakers would miss the playoffs for a third time if the season ended today. The team has managed to weather the storm without Anthony Davis, going 6-5 since he injured his foot Dec. 16 in a win against the Denver Nuggets, but this is still a roster that's treading water.

The specter of trading Russell Westbrook has loomed over the entire season, as it's the only feasible way to improve the roster before the playoffs. While the 2017 NBA MVP has been solid in his sixth-man role, the Lakers are in desperate need of depth and shootingβ€”something Westbrook does not supply.

Adding two role players who fit better next to James and Davis has long been the advisable move, but the Lakers front office has been hesitant to part with two future first-round picks in talks. It's likely the rumors will ramp up again ahead of the February deadline, particularly if Davis is ready to return sooner than later.

James' desire to win may be palpable, but so is his preference to stay in Los Angeles. He signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers over the offseason despite the team failing in consecutive years to make it past the first round of the playoffs. Those are not the actions of a person who wants to leave.