Another day, another discussion of Lebron James' struggles on ESPN's show, "Undisputed" with Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless.
"Undisputed" Becomes Disputed
On Monday's edition of "Undisputed," Sharpe and Bayless discussed the Lakers winning two games despite LeBron James shooting 1-16 from outside. Or they discussed the easy Lakers' schedule. Or they discussed the Lakers' turnovers. The truth is, watching the clip is an exercise in distraction. I have no problem following a complicated debate or conversation. I have a problem with narratives flying around without any semblance of cohesion. I will attempt to bring this cohesion here.
LeBron's Shooting Woes Or Turnovers Or New Rules
Sharpe starts by attempting to address James' shooting struggles and his amount of three-point attempts by tying it to the new foul rules, which does have merit.
"They're not calling it...maybe they're going to the Olympic rules, maybe they're going to go to the international rules with ticky-tack stuff. They're not calling it anymore and LeBron is getting hammered. LeBron is thinking he's getting fouled and they're not calling it so it's deterring him from going."
Sharpe is referring to James "going to the rim." He could have a point. James looked to the officials for quite a few fouls that were not called. Could this have pushed him into settling for jump shots? Perhaps. Sharpe then pivoted to the Lakers' turnover issues, but the chyron on the screen still had James' three-point shooting numbers on the screen.
"If they can take care of the basketball, that's the problem is that you're having too many empty possessions, and you're giving up too many easy baskets..."
Bayless: All Zing, No Substance
Now it's the turnovers? This is confusing and I think it's meant to be. Not to worry, Bayless comes to the rescue with an on-topic point.
"Houston is a G league team...and you get to play them back-to-back? Who made the schedule? LeBron! 12 of your first 15 games are at home and your first two road games are at San Antonio and Oklahoma City? Who made this schedule? LeBron! Shannon Sharpe, you continue to duck and dodge the truth."
Is Bayless saying that the Lakers supposed easy schedule is because James made the schedule that way himself? Is Bayless seriously asserting that James himself made the Lakers schedules to suit the needs he didn't know he would need, a year before the schedule was relevant? Because if Bayless is going to go full conspiracy theorist, he may as well.
Cleaning Up The Argument
Sharpe's point about the new foul rules possibly deterring James from driving to the basket and settling for three's was one worth exploring. After he said this, however, no stats were introduced. How many times did James drive the ball to the basket versus shoot threes? That would have been a nice way for Sharpe to nail home his point. Bayless then goes into his tirade about the Lakers soft schedule, and then he called Russell Westbrook and James "Westbrick" and "LeBrick" within 15 seconds.
Perhaps reductive points like this are best left for Twitter or other social mediums. Sports talk shows don't need to be debate classrooms, but people should be able to follow the points being made instead of being led from one zinger to the next.