El Segundo, Calif. — As Anthony Davis was introduced as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time, standing in the back in a bright yellow sweater reading “CRENSHAW” was his new superstar teammate, LeBron James.
Davis’ first official day as a public member of the Lakers featured him talking about a lot of things, but reading between the lines, it seems as though the biggest factor in him even ending up in L.A. was a chance to play with a player he’s looked up to since he was a kid.
Suffice it to say, Davis has been daydreaming about his partnership with James for a long time, and while it will be a bit before the two are actually able to share a court together in a competitive environment, Davis has already been playing as the pairing in NBA 2K and sending clips of them virtually dunking all over the league to James.
He’s anxious to get to do it for real in a few months, too.
“The things he can do on the floor are pretty amazing. You see it on TV and when you’re a fan of the game you watch it a lot, and I never really had a chance to experience playing alongside him,” Davis said.
Davis has played with James in All-Star games, yes, and they were technically teammates on the 2012 Olympic team. But a couple of alley-oops in exhibition games can hardly compare to the competitive satisfaction of destroying a defense that’s actually trying to stop you, and Davis himself admits that he was “pretty much like the towel guy” who waived sweat rags in celebration during that Olympics run.
The latter admittance is one new Lakers head coach Frank Vogel took exception to, and suffice to say he has far more expanded responsibilities in mind for his newest star.
“If you were the towel guy, they were misusing you,” Vogel cracked.
Davis laughed and clarified that he was 18 years old playing with a roster full of Hall-of-Famers during that Olympic run, but Vogel’s point is less about any coaching decisions from 2012, and more about how excited he is to gameplan around such a high-powered superstar tandem.
“Between the two of them, as far as complementing each other, both are guys that are going to demand double teams in any action that you put him in. They’re going earn a lot of attention,” Vogel said.
“To have a second star to be the counterpunch to each other is really just going to have the two of them complement each other.”
The key word there is “complement.” Throughout NBA history — and James’ own career — we’ve seen star pairings that had to sacrifice for each other. James and Dwyane Wade had to go through their “your turn, my turn” phase. Kyrie Irving and James had similar battles for control of the ball. For as much as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry created space to make each other more dangerous, there was always sort of a push-and-pull for control of the offense.
Potentially not since Shaq and Kobe have we seen a star pairing that accentuates each other’s skills like James and Davis. James has never played with an athletic finisher with playmaking skills who is also a doberman on defense like Davis is, and Davis has never had a playmaker anywhere even near James’ stratosphere as a creator. Together, they could form one of the most devastating duos the league has ever seen.
Davis can’t wait to get started.
“To get a full season and see the things he’s able to do: pass, shoot, talk well defensively, be a great leader. I’m excited to get a lot of that,” Davis said.
James didn’t speak on Saturday, but judging by the smile on his face throughout the presser and the playful way he pantomimed grabbing his new teammate and running Davis away from the cameras once the latter was done speaking, Davis isn’t the only one excited about their new partnership.
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. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.