The Los Angeles Lakers are making another addition to their coaching staff, and it will be a familiar name to anyone who has followed the career of LeBron James closely. In 2012, James literally jumped over 5’11 Bulls point guard John Lucas III to throw down one of the more memorable (and hilarious) alley oops of his career. And now, in 2021, expect that clip to get shown at least a few times in Lakers film sessions this season, because Lucas is joining the Lakers’ coaching staff.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN broke the news with perhaps the most savage scoop tweet of all time:
The Lakers hired John Lucas III to their coaching staff, sources told ESPN. Lucas carved out a respectable journeyman NBA run at PG in a career that included stints in the G League, Europe and China. He joins LAL after coaching with MIN. … And he has some history with LeBron. pic.twitter.com/BBi8EXjn22— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 11, 2021
Here is video of the dunk, for anyone who needs more than the iconic photo:
At least whenever the Lakers do inevitably tease Lucas about that moment, he’ll have a sense of humor about it, as he (and his father, legendary basketball figure John Lucas II) told Bill Oram of The Athletic back in 2013:
That discounts, of course, the time LeBron James dunked over him. It was January 2012, and Lucas, then with the Bulls, was providing baseline help when James took a lob and went up and over the 5-foot-11 point guard.
“Our family just joined the witness protection program and changed its name,” Lucas II quipped to the Chicago Tribune.
Lucas now jokes about the play, and it catapulted him to a certain level of fame, leading, he said, to being a verified member of Twitter.
“Every time I see him I’m like, ‘Thanks for the check,’” Lucas said, “‘the blue check next to my name.’”
On a more serious note, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register followed up with word that Lucas will be mostly focused on player development, in addition to being “a voice in the locker room.”
That makes sense, because while the Lakers already have the maximum of three front-of-bench assistant coaches under Frank Vogel — the returning Phil Handy, the promoted Mike Penberthy, and the freshly added David Fizdale — the team did just re-assign Miles Simon, who will now be head coach of the South Bay Lakers. Simon will continue to serve in some capacity as a Lakers assistant, but with more on his plate, the Lakers adding an additional player development voice to supplement his absence there was a near certainty.
But while all that is obviously important, for those of us on the outside, nothing will top the meme value this addition adds. Forget shoulder bumping Erik Spoelstra. LeBron jumping over Lucas to get back to a huddle will be the greatest and most memeable coaching interaction of his entire career. If he has a sense of humor, he’ll give it to us at least once.