In his lone visit to Madison Square Garden, LeBron James did everything you would expect to see when The King comes to the World's Most Famous Arena. James put up his typical impressive stat line of 33 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. He drew the same audible reactions from the MSG crowd for his play that he's received throughout his 16-year NBA career.
But there's something amiss about this version of LeBron in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. Knicks legend and color commentator Walt "Clyde" Frazier may have pinpointed the exact problem when he provided his honest take on the sight of a clearly disengaged James sitting in the very last seat on the bench, in what seemed to be miles away from the Lakers' huddle.
"This type of behavior is not — when you're the face of the NBA, I think you should be more a part of your team no matter what is going on," Frazier said, per Sporting News. "In the public, you have to be a part of the team. In the locker room, you're not, but you have to (show) that type of togetherness in public, and right now we see he doesn't really care."
This isn't the same LeBron who disrespected the MSG hardwood by flipping a water bottle with his Cavaliers teammates just three years ago.
Despite James's obvious carefree behavior, on the bench and on defense, there has been one constant—his offense has never suffered. That is, until Sunday when LeBron shot 4-for-15 from the field in the 4th quarter against the Knicks. Those 11 missed shots were the most that he has ever had in a quarter.
LeBron's 4th quarter deficiencies helped spearhead an unlikely comeback by the Knicks, the team with the worst record in the NBA. Despite his offensive shortcomings, James was still given the opportunity to control the narrative by hitting the game-winning shot and effectively making everyone forget what was going wrong with him in the 4th quarter.
After their loss, LeBron was supporting Clyde's "doesn't really care" assessment by dismissing the loss as being a game between two teams out of playoff contention. "Of course that stuff bothers me, but I mean what's the difference between their record and our record? Two teams out of the postseason. So there's no difference," he said, per ESPN. "We have a couple more wins than them, but both teams right now are on the outside looking in, so it's not much of a difference."
The Lakers have 17 more wins than the Knicks.