Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When it comes to the  Los Angeles Lakers, the state of the union isn't strong.

Should you have been unaccountably myopic and mentally moribund, causing you to drift to the  New England Patriots Super Bowl celebrations, you may not know that the Los Angeles Lakers have been torn asunder of late.

Strong rumors have it that the Lakers are prepared to trade anyone and everyone not named LeBron James to the New Orleans Pelicans in order to secure the haughty services of Anthony Davis.

Imagine, please, being one of the players whom the Lakers were prepared to trade.

Every day, you're reading about your alleged inclusion in the trade.

Every day, you're supposed to play on a team that includes the superstar who, so rumors have it, is orchestrating your trade away from the glamour of Los Angeles to the relative basketball backwater of New Orleans.

You might think that James, like a fine, manipulative, self-regarding corporate citizen, would try and at least pretend he was a good team player.

And then, on Tuesday, the Lakers went out and gave an abject performance on the road in Indianapolis. 

They lost to the Indiana Pacers by 100 points. I'm sorry, I mean 42 points.

This happened to be the worst loss in James's career. Which is odd, given how many times the Golden State Warriors spanked his Cleveland Cavaliers. (Disclosure: Warriors fan.)

Somehow, during the game, the consummately image-conscious James allowed himself to be seen absolutely as the team-breaker. 

There were all the Lakers but James sitting together on the bench. James was at the other end of the bench sitting alone, three seats between him and his teammates.

It may well be that the three seats had all been recently occupied by players who had just come off the bench.

And James might have just been a touch peeved at the effort his teammates were offering.

James, though, stayed where he was, allowing for an image that would be avoided by the PR savvy.

He has a little history of seeming to get coaches fired and players traded.

That sort of power comes with, well, star power.

This image, though, offers a stark expression of a superstar whose teammates seem to distrust him and whose leadership now doesn't exist, if it ever did.

Yes, it may have been just a small moment in the game. One can't help but feel, however, that in the context of an awful performance James's teammates were trying to tell him something, just as he was telling them something too.

I've often admired James for his frank self-expression and his canny PR skills.

Here, though, you get the impression that he's lost his teammates and they never found him.

And on a night when James reached the mythical 32,000-points level.

And also on a night when Lakers small forward Brandon Ingram had to put up with this catcall as he was shooting a free throw: "LeBron's gonna trade you!"

When things get ugly, great leaders try to patch things up as best they can.

The NBA is a business like any other. Well, at least a little like any other.

James and his teammates, however, appear to have become estranged.

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.

What if the Lakers and the Pelicans can't make a deal?

What if James and the rest of the team are stuck with each other for the rest of the season?

Now that would be painful. In PR terms, I mean.

Published on: Feb 6, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.