Whether Frank Vogel deserves a public trial over his suitability as the Lakers head coach is ultimately immaterial.
It’s what he signed up for when he agreed to coach LeBron James.
Eventually, all of James’ coaches feel the weight of coaching the game’s greatest player. Erik Spoelstra had the defiant backing of management and survived. David Blatt and Luke Walton … not so much.
Now, it seems to be Vogel’s turn for a reckoning as the Lakers have stumbled to a 12-12 start going into Tuesday’s matchup with the Boston Celtics. After losing to the Clippers, the Lakers rank 17th in defensive efficiency and 22nd in offense. All of that adds up to a lot of uneasiness around the future of the man who just 14 months ago coached the Lakers to a championship.
This phenomenon has never been more neatly summed up than in the film “The Dark Knight”: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
James could have made all of that go away for Vogel on Monday. Or, at least, significantly eased the pressure that has been mounting.
Asked following practice whether criticism of Vogel was fair, James started to answer, then chuckled.
“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor.”
James proceeded to say the Lakers “don’t mind some adversity” or “people saying things about us.”
He completely ignored the second part of the question, which was to evaluate the job Vogel has done this season.
Was there an endorsement in there?