The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of a decided surge, having won four straight games after last night’s 121-113 victory against the San Antonio Spurs. As the Lakers collected their seventh win in their last 10 games, the storyline was the same: LeBron James did the heavy lifting and set the tone in victory.
He finished with a game-high 42 points (on 15-for-24 shooting) to go with five rebounds, six assists and two steals. Over that 10-game stretch, James is averaging 29.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and shooting 53.7 percent. Still, James has heard some comments over the past week from Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson — and some comments from Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant — on how he should play his game.
After last night’s win, though, James was asked if his performance was fueled at all by the talk surrounding him of late.
“No, for what? I’m past the [taking things] personal stage,” James said after the game. “I can do whatever. I can have a huge workload, I can have a not so huge workload. … It doesn’t matter for me. What’s most important is seeing my teammates make huge shots in the fourth quarter. … That’s what’s most important to me. I can care less about the narrative about me. It doesn’t matter. I’m a staple in this game.”
In a story published by Bleacher Report on Wednesday, both Durant and now-Lakers teammate Tyson Chandler both were quoted about why some star players might perhaps be hesitant to play alongside James. Per Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, Chandler said:
“If you’ve got LeBron, you’ve got to make it all about LeBron. You’ve got to be able to [coexist] with that and fit with that. Who are you, where are you in your career, and how do you fit in? It’s a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice for winning.”
Chandler made the comments to Bleacher Report a few days before he was waived by the Phoenix Suns and then signed with the Lakers.
As for Durant, he said. “It depends on what kind of player you are. If you’re Kyle Korver, then it makes sense. Because Kyle Korver in Atlanta was the bulk of the offense, and he’s not a No. 1 option at all, not even close. So his talents benefit more from a guy who can pass and penetrate and get him open.
“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi [Leonard], trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”
Chandler said he spoke to James about his comments to Bleacher Report, which he felt were taken out of context.
“What I said was, when you have a great player like LeBron, I said I’ve only played with one other player like that, and like Dirk, you have to make it about them because of how talented they are and where they can lead you,” Chandler told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “And of course all of that wasn’t put in. It was just, ‘When you have a player like LeBron you got to make it about LeBron,’ or something like that. However it read. But that wasn’t the full statement.
“And I just think I don’t like when negative articles come out like that, even if it’s not about my teammate, but about my teammate, somebody who carries teams the way he does, I just think we’re nitpicking. We’re trying to find something negative about something that’s great instead of just leaving it alone.”
As for Durant’s comments, James said he wanted to instead see what the reigning Finals MVP said in full.
“I would love to see the whole transcript of what was asked of him, the context it was asked of him, why it was asked and the whole thing,” James said. “So I’m not gonna comment on it because I don’t know the whole thing. That would be stupid on my part. I’m a veteran.”