Why Is LeBron James Against NBA 2021 Play-In Format?

Published 05/14/2021, 1:25 AM EDT
Mar 2, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


As the season draws to a conclusion, the new Play-in tournament will commence. This is to ensure that the lower-ranked teams have a second chance to be in contention for the postseason. Meanwhile, this tournament shares a similarity with the relegation play-off system of the German Soccer league. This was also to ensure that teams would not tank for the draft lottery. However, not everyone is happy with this system. Notably, some superstars like LeBron James and Luka Doncic voiced their disagreements with the new format.

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Apr 22, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Lakers injured forward LeBron James (23) yells during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James’ thoughts on the Play-in Tournament

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In a recent interview, James mentioned what he had on his mind.

“It doesn’t matter at the end of the day if I’m not 100%, or close to 100%,” James said. “It don’t matter where we land. That’s my mindset. If it happens we end up sixth or fifth, whatever the case may be, or we end up in the playoff, whatever that thing is.

Whoever came up with that (expletive) needs to be fired. But whatever.” said LeBron.

Los Angeles Lakers are ranked seventh; hence, they would need to play against the Golden State Warriors in the tournament. Because of his injury, LeBron’s Lakers are in danger of missing the playoffs if they slip in the knockout style play-in games.

What is the Play-in Tournament?

While some players are unhappy with the new system, fans are excited to see how this unfolds. The basic idea of the tournament is to create an opportunity for the lower-ranked teams.

There will be 4 teams from each conference competing in a playoff series. The 7th ranked team would play the 8th ranked team, and the 9th ranked team will face the 10th ranked team.

The loser of the 2nd match will be out, while the winner would compete with the victor of the 1st match. Finally, the victor of the 3rd game would enter the playoffs.

They play these games from May 18th to May 21st.

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While many have praised this approach, it may be a disadvantage for the teams that finish on the 7th and 8th positions. Moreover, the top six teams will get an additional rest which would help them refocus completely on the playoffs. Time will tell whether it is a sustainable approach for the NBA.

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Jacob Gijy

132 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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