Stephen A. Smith: It Would Be 'Embarrassing' if LeBron James, Lakers Missed Playoffs

LeBron James
LeBron James / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

When LeBron James spoke to reporters over All-Star Weekend, he said the next 23 games are the most important of his regular season career. It sounds like an exaggeration from a guy who has played for 20 years but it is true when you think about it. LeBron is healthy and out of the playoff picture, two things that have rarely happened at the same time during his career. In fact, it has not happened since LeBron's second year in the league back in 2005. Since then, he's made the postseason or, in recent years, been injured down the stretch run.

Should LeBorn stay healthy, these last few months may very well define his post-bubble Los Angeles Lakers tenure because there are no excuses now. Russell Westbrook is gone and Anthony Davis is on the court. The takes will come hot and heavy if the Lakers cannot muster up a winning record to qualify for postseason play in the last 23 games. Especially given how thin the gaps are in the Western Conference standings.

Stephen A. Smith and J.J. Redick discussed this topic on First Take Tuesday and Smith said it would be "embarrassing" for the Lakers to miss the playoffs at this point.

Embarrassing is probably a strong word given how much worse off the Lakers would be if LeBron wasn't having the greatest season any 38 year-old has ever had. He should not feel embarrassed, at any rate. The Lakers should feel embarrassed for all sorts of reasons that start with Russell and end with Westbrook but that is a different conversation.

It would be pretty shocking if LeBron failed to drag this team to the playoffs at this point considering the Lakers, for all their woes, are three games out of the No. 6 seed and have the fourth-easiest schedule in the West for the rest of the year. The groundwork is laid. Frankly all Los Angeles has to do is not suck in order to qualify for the postseason.

So maybe it would be embarrassing if they couldn't even do that. But it all feels like a moot point anyway because do any of you really think that 38-year-old LeBron and Anthony "Street Clothes" Davis are going to stay 100 percent healthy down the stretch?