LOS ANGELES — Right as the Lakers went to halftime against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, cameras and a hot mic near LeBron James picked him up (apparently) chastising teammate Danny Green for jogging while James had hit the deck to recover the ball in the backcourt for a steal, eliminating an opportunity for an easy layup for the purple and gold.
But while the moment was fodder for social media fun, even a streak-snapping loss to the Mavericks (thankfully) didn’t turn the brief exchange into a full-blown and lazy narrative about chemistry problems for the Lakers. Because while James may have been upset with Green in that moment, he clearly wasn’t after the game, shouting out “Deadshot” (Green’s nickname) as he always does in acknowledgement while leaving the locker room this season.
In fact, James calling out Green on the court may have actually been the opposite of evidence of a team fracturing in the wake of tough competition, as on Friday — before that moment with Green even happened — JaVale McGee cited the ability of players to call each other (including James) out as one of the keys to the Lakers’ success this year.
“I feel like one through 15 we have a lot of guys who don’t care if another guy tells them they did something wrong, which is a big part of a championship team: Everybody being held accountable,” McGee said.
“I’ve seen guys tell LeBron ‘you’ve got to do that.’ And LeBron doesn’t go ‘I’m a Hall-of-Famer,” McGee continued, adding that James instead accepts such feedback.
“We all are in this together, and if we want to win as many games as possible and win a championship, then we all have to be accountable, and we see it out there.”
McGee has seen firsthand what it takes to win a championship, winning two of them with the Warriors, although he thinks the Lakers’ situation is a bit different than his time in Golden State because the core of this roster hasn’t been together quite as long.
“I feel like this is a conglomerate of guys that really just know what we’re here for and what’s going on,” McGee said. “We haven’t won together, those guys were together for five and six years, so they had a habit. For this to be our first year, this is impressive.”
More impressive, given the chemistry those Warriors teams exuded, might have been the other point McGee had to make when talking about why the Lakers have been so successful this year, with their 17-2 start tied for the best in the history of the franchise.
“We’re a team,” McGee said. “You see all the chemistry that we have on and off the court. By far this is the best — one through 15 — guys have gotten along and hung out together on and off the court in my career. It just shows on the court.”
So again, the Lakers may have lost on Sunday, but this (at least so far) does not appear to be a team that’s going to wilt due to dropping from 17-2 to a still-NBA-best 17-3.
If anything, the ability to hold each other even more accountable after some of the bad habits they’ve built up came back to bite them may be a boon for this team. We’ll see how it works out, but McGee’s description of the locker room offers plenty of room for optimism about how the Lakers will respond to the adversity their schedule will provide this month.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.