Johnson made his initial comments on James in the team’s official press release on Monday, but he got the chance to talk more in-depth on the James signing Tuesday on an episode of Spectrum SportsNet’s “Connected with ...” featuring Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.
During the interview, Johnson talked about the vision he sold the four-time league MVP, which included a chance to grow with the Lakers’ exciting young core. According to Johnson, James has bought in (via Lakers.com):
“Oh yeah, he’s very excited. That’s who he is. Rob and I want gym rats, we want guys who love to play the game. Guys who love to compete, they love to win, they love to sweat … and that’s what we got, everything rolled into one with LeBron. He knows he can take these young guys and really work on their skill set, their mindset, their approach to the game, their work ethic. And he’s already rubbing off on them and really has not gotten together with them yet. So when you have the greatest player in the world come join your organization, it raises everybody’s level of play.”
Johnson mentioned James brought up Josh Hart, who is dominating at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League, by name during their conversation. James has also made flattering comments about Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma even before he signed with the Lakers.
Johnson believes James’ presence alone has already elevated the young players’ work ethic:
“Kuz, Zo, Josh, B.I. are all ready. You can just tell the energy (LeBron has) brought to their work is unbelievable.”
“All of them are ripped, they’re ready.”— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) July 10, 2018
-Magic Johnson on the young core per Spectrum.
We’re still months away from seeing how James fits with the Lakers’ young core, but it’s hard not to get excited. Every team James has been a part of for the past 15 (!!!) years has been a playoff contender, if not a title contender.
If James can come in and help the Lakers’ young players make major strides next season, we’re in for one hell of a ride.