EL SEGUNDO, California – LeBron James said he and his teammates need to play better when asked about the scrutiny Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel faces.
“I think criticism comes with work, you know,” James said after Monday’s practice. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we, as his players, have to do a better job of going out and producing on the pitch. We are a team and an organization that don’t mind adversity. , that it does not matter to him that people say things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory “.
LA has a 12-12 record, which would place him the eighth seed in the Western Conference and in the play-in tournament if the season ended today.
For a roster packed with future Hall of Famers, playing for an organization that has made no secret of its championship aspirations for this season from the front office to the locker room, playing for .500 is simply not enough – despite the fact that the team has overcome a wave of injuries earlier in the season.
James said the character that players like himself, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo have built up in the game has made them immune to the backlash that inevitably arises when expectations – fair or not – fail. are fulfilled.
“We have a lot of guys on this team that have been undercard material for quite some time, so it doesn’t bother us,” James said. “Everything we do stays at home when it comes to our preparation and how we prepare for our next opponent and how we prepare to improve. Frank doesn’t care and neither do we what people say.”
It’s been just 14 months since Vogel guided the Lakers to the championship to crown his first season as the franchise’s coach.
He is 106-61 (.635) since arriving in Los Angeles, the sixth-best winning percentage of any coach in Lakers history with at least 100 games on the sidelines. His record for winning percentage as a coach in the playoffs, 18-9 (.667), places him third only behind Pat Riley (.685) and Paul Westhead (.684), and ahead of Phil Jackson (. 652), which is fourth.
“There will be criticism of this job,” said Vogel, who is in his third time as head coach after six seasons with the Indiana Pacers and two with the Orlando Magic. “It’s something we’re all used to. And I’ve been a coach for 10 years, I’ve seen it all.”
Vogel said the Lakers stage only amplifies the noise.
“Is it more national? Yes, it is more national,” Vogel said. “Is there a bigger fan base in this market in Los Angeles? Yes, there is. But it’s been there for all the head coaches, and it’s something I’m not familiar with. So it comes with work.”
Vogel is the eighth head coach in James’ 19-year career, after Paul Silas, Brendan Malone and Mike Brown in the Cleveland Cavaliers; Erik Spoelstra in the Miami Heat; David Blatt and Tyronn Lue during his second season with the Cavaliers; and Luke Walton in LA