LeBron James has been doing this for a really long time.
Monday night was the latest in a long list of memorable playoff performances from James. It did feature a first for him as he grabbed 20 rebounds for the first time in his career to record a 20-20 game. But it was ultimately a game that gets tacked onto the end of a constantly-updating list of remarkable postseason outings.
For the young Lakers around him, though? This is all so very new.
As LeBron does what he normally does in the playoffs, the Lakers around him are enjoying every moment of it. After leading the Lakers to a victory in overtime on Monday, LeBron spoke about how he keeps finding motivation at this stage in his career and shared an incredible story about Austin Reaves.
“These are the moments I love,” LeBron said. “I love the postseason. Obviously, I’ve been a part of a lot of the games. I just love being able to make plays and be out there with my teammates and give them experiences that they may have never had before.
“This is Austin’s first playoff series and we were talking after the game and he was just talking about how much he loved this. He said this is the greatest thing he’s ever been a part of basketball-wise. He said something else but I can’t repeat it. And that brought a lot of joy to me, that I could be in a position where I can be a part of someone’s experience that this is the greatest basketball-wise they’ve ever done. That’s pretty cool to me.”
Not every Laker is in their first playoff series, but few have been in a series like this, including D’Angelo Russell. Almost immediately after the game, Russell took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the win.
No words. pic.twitter.com/b9fANVM2AH— D'Angelo Russell (@Dloading) April 25, 2023
For those of you not chronically online — I envy you — or unaware of the reference, the screenshot is from an old Vine.
The whole team also continued the tradition of greeting LeBron with goat noises when he entered the locker room. I’m sure you can figure out that reference.
April 25, 2023
That trend was started from an unlikely source, as recently detailed by Dave McMenamin of ESPN in one of the more fun stories of the year from the Lakers beat. Last season, Wenyen Gabriel began making the goat noises to LeBron after being signed. It didn’t pick up steam, though, until the Lakers’ mid-season trade.
Gabriel’s goat call has attracted a herd of teammates this season who’ve joined him in his unique tribute to James.
“This year, I just felt like there’s times just chemistry-wise it’s been a big boost,” said Austin Reaves, who regularly joins in the livestock serenade along with Gabriel, Mo Bamba, Lonnie Walker IV and D’Angelo Russell. “Bron’s trying to act all serious in his interviews and we’re over there messing around.”
It paints a funny, accurate and somewhat poetic picture of a Lakers roster that is built of players who spent their childhoods watching LeBron James dominate the league over the last two decades. Now, they’re getting a chance to be part of those moments, so can you really fault them for enjoying it while they can?
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.