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#pounditThursday, December 1, 2022

Photo of LeBron James alone on Lakers bench is misleading

LeBron James bench

A photo of LeBron James sitting alone on the Los Angeles Lakers’ bench went viral on Tuesday night because of the obvious implications regarding the context, but it is actually misleading.

A few media reporters/outlets shared the photo and video that makes James seem like he was pouting and a poor leader as he suffered the worst loss of his career — a 42-point defeat to the Indiana Pacers. Here’s the photo and video that went viral:

The easy narrative to fill in is that the players don’t want any part of James amid all the trade talks and he doesn’t want a part of them as they’re making him look bad. But there’s actually background that explains the circumstances of the photo.

James always sits on the end of the bench, on a chair that has a special cushion.

Two, as this video from Rob Perez shows, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had just been sitting next to James before checking into the game. Rajon Rondo subbed out and sat next to the coaches rather than LeBron, because he likes doing that and that’s where his cushion was. Then later in the game, Tyson Chandler sat down next to LeBron.

It’s easy to look at that photo and pick on LeBron and say he’s a bad leader or to interpret it to mean his teammates don’t like him. But that’s not the full story, although we know LeBron thinks the trade rumors have been “tough” on his teammates.

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