When LeBron James left the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers, shocking just about everyone, he was leaving a title contender for a team mired in something a little lower than mediocrity. Sound familiar?
James was asked by Dave McMenamin of ESPN to compare the situation in Cleveland to these current Los Angeles Lakers and, well, he likes this team.
“This city is built on stars. This city breeds stars, and it breeds winners. And I’m a winner, more importantly. But obviously with Jeanie [Buss], Earvin [Magic Johnson] and Rob [Pelinka], they know what it means and know what it feels like to win, so they’re a little bit closer to the finish line than, say, when I first got back to Cleveland.
“We want to get back to winning. This franchise hasn’t won in the last few years, but that’s all they’ve known since they’ve been in existence.”
Combine the championship pedigree LeBron talks about above with a legitimately exciting young core, and the Lakers are very obviously heading in the right direction.
Speaking of the young Lakers, James was asked for his thoughts on each individually, and it sounds like he likes what he sees.
First, on Lonzo Ball.
”He’s destined for greatness, I believe.”
Well okay then. It’s really too bad Ball isn’t fully healthy as training camp kicks off. James and Lonzo make a lot of sense to share the court with each other but, so long as the latter isn’t healthy, it’s kind of a non-starter. (See what I did there?)
Next, James gave his thoughts on Brandon Ingram, who took a huge step forward last season. James seems think he’s poised to do the same in year three.
”Look out. I think he’s next.”
Ingram represents something James has yet to play with: A small forward capable of creating for both himself and his teammates offensively. More than any other Laker, if Ingram lives up to his potential and figures out a way to fit with LeBron, this team is capable of quite a bit more than previously perceived.
Lastly, James spoke about Kyle Kuzma, who has received all kinds of praise for the work he put in this summer.
”What he’s done for his body and what he’s done for his mind this offseason is going to be huge not only for our team’s success, but him personally.”
If we were to predict who we think is poised for a big season next year based solely on the amount of hype they received throughout this offseason, the answer would be Kuzma and it isn’t remotely close.
James wasn’t asked about Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac or any of the rookies heading into next season, but suffice it to say that they can and will help this team to varying degrees.
We saw how things turned out in Cleveland, but it took time. It’s going to take a while for guys to get used to each other on this team. Thing is, because James is no longer in the East, his latest newest team won’t have much time to figure things out. So in that case, it’s a good thing he considers the Lakers further ahead than the Cavs were upon his second arrival there.
You can watch McMenamin’s full sit down with James — in which he also discusses the last NBA Finals and the “Space Jam” sequel — below: