When Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers, LeBron James made it clear that he wanted Davis to be the MVP — not just of the team, but of the league. It represented a rare willingness by James to take a backseat after being the alpha dog on essentially every team throughout his 16 prior years in the league.
As it turned out, James’ outstanding play at age 35 launched him into the MVP conversation, and Davis’ case never quite materialized, though a Defensive Player of the Year award could still be on the horizon. Nevertheless, James was right about one thing — this Lakers team doesn’t just belong to him. Both James and Davis lead the Lakers, and that partnership has benefited everyone.
Jared Dudley said that Davis’ role as a leader has been overlooked this season in an interview with The Athletic. The veteran forward noted that Davis and James complement each other, and that means Davis gets his moments to be vocal with the rest of the team.
Anthony Davis has brought the best out of LeBron and LeBron has brought the best out of Anthony Davis. When it comes to Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough credit as far as being a leader. Pushing LeBron. People always think it’s LeBron to AD. AD’s presence defensively, him being a beast. LeBron trying to integrate him the right way, him being more vocal, him getting on teammates. People don’t see that side. LeBron might be the leader.
But don’t get it twisted. There’s many times that he’s more vocal than LeBron. I want people to know this man gave up millions of dollars to come here and it’s not just to follow somebody. It’s a co-lead. For them to go on this path together, that’s why I was kind of bummed because of how well they were going to elevate each other in the playoffs. How these two were on pace to take their games to a whole other level. They were locking in. Like no other.
Dudley brings up an interesting point about Davis leaving money on the table to come to Los Angeles.
Davis was in line for a designated player extension in New Orleans that would have paid him 35% of the salary cap, and he sacrificed the opportunity to be with the Lakers. As someone who had been the best player on his team throughout his entire career — much like James — Davis apparently didn’t come to Los Angeles to play second fiddle. He came to be an equal partner in a winning team.
James hasn’t allowed just anyone to be a “co-lead” before — just ask Kyrie Irving. Davis demanded that with his talent and his work ethic.
Even though James is the nominal face of the team, it appears that Davis took on a larger role in the locker room that would have been expected. His ability to balance James both on and off the court was an unheralded key to the Lakers’s success.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.