Los Angeles — A lot has been made this week of LeBron James talking about how awesome it would be to play with Anthony Davis on the Lakers, a revelation that really shouldn’t have been that surprising considering that Davis is, well, really good.
That obviousness aside, James’ remarks sent the league into a tizzy, with New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry calling James’ remarks tampering, while some small-market GMs anonymously cried about it being tampering despite the NBA never having previously enforced the rules about tampering for players.
James wasn’t surprised by such a reaction, because he’s used to it.
“Anything I say will generate something,” James said.
But James thinks his comments shouldn’t have been such a big deal. To emphasize his point, he decided to play a little game with the media after the Lakers’ 112-104 win over the Pelicans.
“Ask me would I like to play with Kevin Durant,” James said.
When a reporter asked James exactly that, James said “absolutely,” and then went on to further his argument by basically listing a group of players that he’d like to play with.
“Ask me if I’d like to play with Jimmy Butler. Ask me about Kyrie Irving. Giannis. Ask me about Embiid, Ben Simmons. Go ahead, all of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now. Come on, guys. It’s not rocket science,” James said. “These are great players, absolutely I would love to play with a lot of great players. That’s just who I am.”
Aside from the disrespect of James neglecting to mention Ivica Zubac, who had just played his best game of the season, it would seem relevant to note that none of the players James mentioned are Lakers. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it does illustrate that the Lakers’ roster is probably far from a finished product.
James made his remarks with a smile, and seemingly not just because his comments were an admittedly funny way to aim the blame for the furor over his compliment of Davis back on the media that reacted to it and covered it breathlessly for most of this week. James knows the power of his words, but it doesn’t mean he’s not going to wipe his hands of the whole endeavor.
James’ smile was the smile of an untouchable man, the smile of someone who knows he’s made his point and that there isn’t a thing that league can do about it. The owners and GMs whining about James finally know how their players feel when they try to stop him: Helpless, and James knows it.
“People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can’t control me. At all,” James said, before punctuating his remarks with one more dig at the owners who think James can’t recruit their players to the Lakers just as much or as little as he wants.
“And I played by the rules,” James said, before smiling again.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.