Over the course of his career, LeBron James hasn’t had very much patience for the development of youth around him, which makes sense, given the expectations that come with his presence on any team. His first year with the Los Angeles Lakers is going to be different, though, and he acknowledges this as a different type of challenge, but one he doesn’t have to undertake alone.
James sat down with James Worthy, Chris McGee and Allie Clifton on Spectrum SportsNet after his press conference with the media at-large, and detailed how he foresees the relationship between veterans and younger players on the Lakers working over the course of the season.
“It’s not just myself. You know, everyone wants to ask me the question, ‘how are you going to help the young guys?’ You know, by bringing in a guy like (Rajon) Rondo, by bringing in Lance (Stephenson), and bringing in Beas (Michael Beasley), and bringing some of the veterans, JaVale (McGee), who’s been around Golden State’s winning guys, winning mentality, it allows me not to have to put all the burden on me to try to help the young guys.”
This follows the theme this offseason of his not wanting to be the driving force to everything in an organization both on and off the court. James also went into detail on how he thinks that mentoring process will work on a daily basis, plus looked at the bigger-picture on how this whole thing came together.
“We all can pick, you know, a guy a day. ‘Hey, I got you today, Kuz, or Zo, I got you, or Rondo, he got you, or BI.” So, we have a great mixture. And that’s what Earvin did, or that’s what Rob did, or Jeanie. They put together a … great mix of young guys, older guys, veterans, champions, guys that want to learn from … So, it’s exciting for sure.”
Right off the bat, it’s interesting to note the way LeBron thinks of the guys the Lakers signed after he committed. We know by now that he signed off on those signings, and this is a look into his mind regarding why he was cool with those players specifically.
LeBron mentioning different guys helping different teammates is also indicative of how he thinks about the game. Sure, he’s going to do the majority of the creating, scoring, and, well just about everything else, but on this team at this stage of his career, he wants to share that burden and empower his teammates.
Maybe that stance will change if the team doesn’t meet James’ expectations, but for now, that is very clearly his approach to his time as a Laker.
The approach LeBron is outlining is also one that might help on a couple levels, too. First and most obviously, veterans taking turns having different guys to focus on will, at least in theory, aide in communication across the roster. It also should help in breaking up the monotony that comes with an 82-game NBA regular season. Yes, having guys at the same position help consistently makes sense (and probably will happen), but over the course of the season, hearing from different voices keeps things fresh.
It’ll be fascinating to watch this take place on all kinds of different levels. But nothing really highlighted how out of the ordinary this approach is better than the exchange between James and Allie Clifton, who’s covered him extensively over the last few years in Cleveland.
Going back for LeBron/Spectrum quotes and this was a funny moment:— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) September 24, 2018
LeBron says that with a younger team he’s going to have to be a little more patient. @RealAClifton just starts laughing, and LeBron knew the jig was up. Haha
We’re painfully close to the season, and how these relationships work out is going to be one of the more important developments across the entire organization moving forward.