The feud between Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and sports television personality Skip Bayless has largely been one-sided, since James has mostly ignored the frequent criticisms directed at him by Bayless.
On Friday, Bayless once again attacked James by stating that he should no longer be ranked among the top 10 players in the NBA.
Bayless made the statement about James (beginning at the 2:20 mark) on his FS1 program “Undisputed,” amid a flurry of other criticisms directed at players he felt were also undeserving of being highly ranked in a Sports Illustrated list released on Thursday.
“The only way your man (James) is number three is on reputation and projection,” Bayless said to co-host Shannon Sharpe. “And I’ll give you the reputation, but I will not give you the projection because I saw what I saw last year. I saw an aging superstar. I saw 28 and 27 in the games he started for the Los Angeles Lakers. I saw a blooper reel of lowlights.”
At that point, video was shown offscreen with Bayless offering commentary on the Lakers’ miscues that took place when James was on the court.
“Could we see that again?” Bayless said. “I haven’t seen it in too long. There it is. Oh, he threw the ball in off the backboard, the back of the backboard.
“Wait, what is this? [Kyle] Kuzma just shoved him out to play 3-point defense. What are you doing, LeBron? Pick up the ball, pick up the ball. Oh, he kicked it out of bounds. That’s the third-best player in the league?
“Mario Hezonja blocked his last-second, unclutch shot. I thought it was Klutch Sports, it’s unclutch.”
Bayless’ last comment was a dig at the sports agency that represents James and helped bring him to the Lakers. That led to Sharpe making an attempt to explain the publication’s ranking.
“Skip, but they said reason why they (Sports Illustrated) put him, the reason why he wasn’t at the top is because he gave up on playing defense and the amount of minutes he’s accumulated in the previous 16 seasons,” Sharpe said.
“So if he gave up on playing defense, how can you rank him third?” Bayless asked in response.
“Because he’s still a bad man,” Sharpe said. “He’s still bad.”
“You know, he’s not a top 10 player right now,” Bayless said amid protests from Sharpe. “You know, Russell Westbrook was 12th on this list. I’ll give LeBron 11. Jimmy Butler was 11. I’ll give LeBron 11 to Russell’s 12. He’s one rung ahead of Russell Westbrook.”
Sharpe was dismissive of those comments and indicated that Bayless should be ashamed of himself for making such a statement.
No doubt fans of the Lakers feel much the same way and have high hopes for the upcoming season, primarily because a healthy James will be joined by new acquisition Anthony Davis. However, the Los Angeles Clippers, who share Staples Center with the Lakers, have replaced the depleted Golden State Warriors as the team to beat in the Western Conference.