From The Land to La La Land. The King hits Hollywood. All was supposed to be sunshine and palm trees for LeBron James and the Lakers.
Narrator: It was not.
The Lakers have officially been eliminated from the NBA playoffs after Friday's 110-106 loss to D'Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets, officially ending James' run of eight straight NBA Finals appearances.
But that was in the Eastern Conference. The Wild West is a whole different ball game.
And still, this Lakers team that surrounded James with players like Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and more, was supposed to challenge the Warriors.
The Lakers' downfall started on Christmas Day, when LeBron injured his groin in a win against the Warriors. At that point, Los Angeles was 20-14 and seemed destined for the playoffs.
But James didn't return from his groin injury until Jan. 31, and the Lakers went 6-11 in his 17-game absence. Shortly after he returned, the Anthony Davis trade rumors appeared to distract the team ... and it was all downhill from there.
The last time James missed the playoffs was the 2004-05 season ... his second in the NBA, when he was only 20 years old. But now at 34, he finds himself in uncharted territory.
All it takes is one offseason to turn things around, but the Lakers have a long ways to go if they're going to catch the Warriors. Or plenty of other teams ahead of them in the West.