LeBron James, the newest face of the Los Angeles Lakers, stopped by the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday to watch his new teammates earn a spot in the semifinals of the NBA Summer League after beating the Detroit Pistons in Las Vegas.
— NBA Summer League (@NBASummerLeague) July 15, 2018
— NBA (@NBA) July 15, 2018
James officially signed with L.A. on July 9. This appearance is his first at NBA Summer League since joining the Lakers this summer. After the game he chatted with former coach Tyronn Lue.
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times has more on James’ visit and how the Lakers’ Summer League players reacted to it:
This time, James had been in Las Vegas for a few days. But with the Lakers off Friday and Saturday, he had to wait until Sunday to catch the summer edition of his new team in action. They were already on the road when James agreed to sign a four-year deal with the Lakers on July 1. He signed his contract on July 9 at his home in Brentwood, with his agent Rich Paul and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka in attendance.
Afterward, James skipped the fanfare. He never held up his jersey at a news conference announcing his arrival. He never spoke with reporters about why he made this decision. He doesn’t plan to speak publicly until July 30 when his I Promise school opens in Akron, Ohio.
His presence at Sunday’s game marked his first public appearance as a Laker.
James clapped and pumped his fists for impressive plays. When Mykhailiuk released the ball midway through the first quarter, James exclaimed “Cash only!” just before it sank through the net.
When Alex Caruso hit a three-pointer and was fouled on the play, James did a little dance-like hand motion in celebration. Caruso didn’t notice during the game, but his friends sent him the video on Snapchat.
“It’s pretty surreal now,” Caruso said. “I mean, he’s really on the team I guess. Good to see him, and [Brandon Ingram] showed up too, just to see them supporting us shows that they care.”
James is coming off one of his greatest NBA seasons, playing in all 82 regular-season games for the Cavaliers while finishing third in the NBA with 27.5 points per game and hitting career highs with 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists. He then carried Cleveland to its fourth consecutive NBA Finals, where the Cavs were swept by Golden State.
The Lakers already have begun assembling a revamped team around James by acquiring Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson in free agency while retaining guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Los Angeles also assembled a reasonably talented young core before James’ arrival with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.