LeBron James says he won't 'cheat the game' after triple-double against Kings, preaches respect for 'basketball gods'
James continues to put on a show
The Los Angeles Lakers are officially out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, but that isn't stopping veteran forward LeBron James from playing his best basketball. James recorded his eighth triple-double (29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) of the season in a win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, and afterward he explained his approach to playing with little on the line.
"I would never cheat myself," James said, via ESPN. "I know we're out the playoff race, but if I'm on the court, I'm going to play how I play, and I play to win. So, I will never cheat the game... There's such a thing called 'game gods.' And they're watching no matter what you're doing, and it's our obligation to go out and be a professional, and that's what I'm about."
James went on to elaborate by explaining that as long as he is in uniform, which he should be when the Lakers take the floor on Tuesday night against the Wizards (10:30 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass add-on), he feels compelled to positively impact the game in any way that he can.
"When I'm on the floor, I've got to play the game no matter what our circumstances is, no matter how many minutes I'm out on the floor, through the basketball gods, I've always respected the basketball gods," James said. "If I'm on the floor, I've got to try to play as hard as I can or do something to affect the game and not cheat the game. So, if I'm on the floor, if I'm in uniform, then I've got to try to make things happen.
"Not saying I'm going to make every shot, not saying I'm going to make every play or not have any turnovers. But just try to make an impact on the game and, like I said, I was on the floor tonight, and I was able to make a couple plays to help make our team win."
In addition to those mystical basketball gods, James also feels as though he owes it to the fans that continue to show up at the Staples Center despite the fact that the Lakers are eliminated from playoff contention to put on a show.
"Man, that's just my love of the game," James said. "I owe it to myself, and obviously with the fans continuing to show up, they know we're not making the playoffs; by me owing it to myself, it automatically gives to our fans when I'm out on the floor. So, just appreciate them continuing to show up. I owe it to myself. As long I'm going to play this game, I've got to stay true to it."
This season didn't end up how James - or Lakers fans - had hoped, but the future Hall-of-fame forward is optimistic about the franchise's future; at least according to a post that he added to Instagram over the weekend.
"Believe me! Promise [Laker Nation], the spell won't last much longer! I swear," James wrote. "The marathon continues!"
It will be strange to watch postseason basketball without LeBron this spring, as it will be the first time since 2005 that a team led by him has failed to qualify for the playoffs, but every good run has to come to an end. Now, it's up to James and the Lakers to start a new one, beginning next season.
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