Easily the most talked-about topic pertaining the Los Angeles Lakers this summer and heading into next season has been how much LeBron James has left in the tank. Questions about what he might be able to offer this season reached their peak when ESPN dared to move him all the way down to third on their list of top 100 NBA players.
Third. You monsters.
(He likely deserves to be moved down but that isn’t the point.)
During an interview with Spectrum SportsNet’s Chris McGee, James Worthy and Allie Clifton, the group were discussing where James ranked on ESPN’s list, and James couldn’t even wait to let Clifton finish her question about how motivated he is in reference to ESPN’s blasphemous list:
Clifton: You’ve always said you don’t need any extra motivation...
James: “But I got some this summer. But I’m not going to talk about it. My mom told me... I wish I could elaborate a little bit more, but by mom told me. She was like, ‘Don’t talk about it. Be about it.’ But there’s some motivation for me. There’s a lot of conversations going on this summer and I’m just very quiet, very quiet. And I’m just going to maintain quiet, but I am very motivated.”
He sure sounds ready to go. pic.twitter.com/RnoEUw8bTn— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) September 27, 2019
Look, Bron. I enjoy your work as much as anyone. But if there is anything you can never claim to be, it’s quiet. You literally tried to trademark Taco Tuesday.
This is not the first time even today that James talked about this extra bit of motivation, by the way. While at the podium talking to a pool of reporters roughly the size of the population of Rhode Island, he first mentioned what his mom told him not to say.
“I’m very motivated, but right now not in talking about it mode. I’ve been very quiet this summer for a reason. My mother always taught me, don’t talk about it, be about it.’ So that’s where I’m at. I think as a team, and myself, we need to get the Lakers back to what they’ve been accustomed to over the years. I’m excited about that,” James said.
As we’re written about before, if this is indeed one of James’ final haymakers before transitioning to the next stage of his career, then it’ll be fascinating to watch whether it lands and the extent of the damage he can do with it.
Of course James has heard all this noise, though. For the first time ever (since ESPN started making their list) James does not reside atop it. This was always going to happen, obviously, but an athlete at James’ level will always think it happened sooner than it should have.
That said, this much noise was inevitable because of how last year went. In James’ first season with the Lakers, they failed to make the playoffs and he fell under intense scrutiny for the way things went down at the trade deadline. There were also the rumblings — albeit from his camp — about his happiness with the way the team was coached.
But it wasn’t just in rankings from various websites where James’ image seemingly took a hit, either. His leadership was questioned throughout the season and summer not just by talking heads and fans, but seemingly within the league as well. Stuff like that — as well as what’s been said about the Lakers — has evidently motivated him to another level.
Alright alright. Enough is enough. The throne has been played with to much and I ain’t for horseplay. Ether coming soon! #JamesGang✊— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 1, 2019
However it is that James responds will likely be the determining factor of what the Lakers are capable of, so hearing him this motivated should excite fans and make the rest of the NBA a little nervous.