On Tuesday, Lakers veteran Jared Dudley released a new, 41-page mini-book on Kindle about his experience winning a title in the NBA bubble. Co-written with Carvell Wallace of New York Times Magazine with an audio version narrated by Dudley himself, it is probably the most fascinating, in-depth and detailed account we’ve ever gotten about what life was really like for the Lakers last year, from their fraught preseason trip to China to them raising the Larry O’Brien trophy and leaving Disney World.
As he always is, Dudley is incredibly candid in the book, including his revelation about the real reason the Lakers had issues with the Clippers, and Paul George in particular.
Here, let him tell it, while breaking down what life was like in the bubble:
We don’t talk to people on other teams. As far as we’re concerned, our squad is the only squad. We know that there are some real feelings regarding the Clippers. It’s more than just battle-for-LA stuff, though that’s part of it.
Oh? Well then what was the rest of it?
Every day when we were on the outside, we were all driving past billboards with Kawhi Leonard wearing a crown. In our city. We didn’t like that.
This was, as I wrote about over the offseason and Jared confirms here, a very real thing all year. There were multiple iterations of the extremely large Clippers billboard, usually making some variation on a claim that L.A. was their city, on the 405 near LAX where the freeway interchanges towards the UCLA Health Training Center. Dudley was far from the only Lakers employee to be annoyed by the likely very intentional advertising placement.
It also wasn’t the only thing that caused the Lakers to channel their inner MJ meme and take things personally:
We hear some of those guys talking about how they’re the team to beat in LA. It’s fine if Kawhi says stuff like that. He’s defending a championship. We don’t trip if someone like Patrick Beverley is talking trash; that’s how he feeds his family. We get it. We respect the hustle.
Oh? Then who did bother the team by saying stuff like that? Do tell, Jared.
But we think it’s disrespectful for Paul George, who hasn’t won, to put himself on the level of Bron and AD. This motivates us. When we see those guys around the compound, we don’t really kick it with them. The one exception of course is Markieff, whose twin brother, Marcus, is on the Clippers. This probably keeps tensions from boiling over.
So there it is. We now know, from the mouths of one of the players themselves, why the Lakers clearly had a little extra competitive fire for games against the Clippers. This is also probably part of the reason why — as Dudley himself admitted over the offseason — the Lakers literally laughed at the Clippers for blowing a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs, meaning we never got to see those tensions in a seven-game playoff series.
Will we get to see the matchup we all waited all of last season for during the 2021 playoffs? Given how both the Lakers and Clippers are playing, it seems likely. But until then, reliving the bubble with Dudley’s new book is a solid way to spend an hour or so of your day. I personally would very much recommend the audiobook version, as it’s incredibly impactful to hear Dudley himself explain in his own words why LeBron James and the rest of the Lakers were really upset about Daryl Morey’s preseason tweet while they were in China — it wasn’t because they don’t like free speech — and to hear him use phrases like “LeBron was dunking like the rim killed his dog.” He also shared why last year was the most important role he’s played in his entire career, and a whole lot more.
Seriously, it’s a great listen/read, and if you want more stories like those and the one above, you can check it out on Kindle for $1.99, or for free if you have Kindle Unlimited like I do. This is genuinely not a paid advertisement, and I did not get the book as a review copy like the media does with some new releases. I just genuinely, really enjoyed it, and would recommend it to any Lakers fan.