Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas pulled no punches when it came to assessing LeBron James' first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, claiming it has been an “absolute failure” in his eyes during a guest appearance in ESPN's Get Up!
“It was an absolute failure for him,” said Thomas. “This is the first time that we've seen him at the professional level, even at the high school level, have this type of failure in his career. He's been to the NBA Finals for seven, eight years. I'm not sure how the NBA is going to respond to him not being in The Finals, it will be interesting to see what the fans do in terms of viewing the games because he's been a torch carrier. He's carried the torch for this league for so many years right now. But for him personally, this is an absolute failure.
James had led the Lakers to fourth place in the West after an impressive victory over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, but then missed 17 straight games due to a groin injury he suffered in the third quarter in that game.
The Lakers naturally plummeted to the 10th spot in the conference, sliding out of the playoff picture, and were never able to climb back up, even after his return.
Thomas raised questions about James' ability to bounce back next season, given that his career arc has mostly seen an upward trajectory after his first two seasons of missing the playoffs early in his career. James made the postseason 13 straight times, including winding up in the NBA Finals eight times in a row.
“It would be interesting to see if he can bounce back from this, because I don't know” said Thomas. “We've never seen him come back from absolute failure like he's had this year with the Lakers.”