Former Boston Celtics guard and 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Ray Allen might not seem like the most likely source of praise for a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, but the man who battled L.A. in the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010 made an exception for former teammate LeBron James.
With Allen set to go into the Hall of Fame on Friday night, he took a look back at some of his favorite memories of his career with Shams Charania of the Athletic, and he told Charania that the Lakers’ newest superstar was tied for being his favorite teammate ever:
Toss-up between Sam Cassell and LeBron James. Sam was a guy you wanted to go to battle with. He wouldn’t quit on you and do whatever he could. He never wore bad body language. LeBron is a guy who you’ll have fun with, he’ll compete with you, but he is always one of the guys. He never made himself bigger than the next man.
A lot has been made of the talent James will bring to the Lakers — and he obviously brings that in spades — but we might not have made enough of how great of a teammate and mentor the young Lakers will be getting.
Has James shown to be prickly at times in high-profile moments when teammates make mistakes? As J.R. Smith can tell you, absolutely. But James has also been shown to be one of the most team-centric superstars in NBA history, a guy who organized whole mock photoshoots as a pregame ritual when he was younger and did things like buy matching suits for his whole roster last year.
It’s overstated how much superstars like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan distanced themselves from their teammates, but there is little disputing that James has been far closer publicly to the rosters surrounding him than either of those greats were with with respective teammates, and that love of camaraderie and of being “one of the guys” is one of the things that makes James different than most superstars that have come before.
James has already joined in the young Lakers lightheartedly ribbing each other and themselves on Instagram, and it seems like he’s excited to build another set of bonds in Los Angeles. If Allen’s word is anything to go off of, then in addition to an infusion of talent, the Lakers will be getting an extra infusion of brotherhood and togetherness as well when training camp kicks off in a few weeks.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.