LeBron James has been in stunning form over the last few weeks, registering the best numbers of his four-year spell with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James boasts NBA-caliber averages of 28.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists, clocking in 36.8 minutes per night in over 25 games this season. However, the four-time NBA champion registered even better stats in the last eight games, stepping up for L.A. as it dealt with a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
James put up 33.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per night over the last eight games, scoring a season-high of 43 points in Friday’s 139-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers — just a day after he turned 37.
Head coach Frank Vogel said James’ energy has been a major motivational force for the Lakers.
“No doubt and I would say there’s two ways to separate that type of energy,” Vogel said. “One, being he exemplifies going out and playing to exhaustion. Hey, you’re going to play probably the first eight minutes of the game, come out around four-minute mark. But he plays so hard in the first quarter and the third quarter that he gets to exhaustion, that’s when he’s like ‘hey I need a sub’.
“That’s how we want our group to play. That’s how everyone should play the game. Play the game to exhaustion. He’s showing that.”
Vogel pointed out James impacts the Lakers both on and off the court, trying to keep the spirits high in film sessions and practice despite the difficult first half of the season.
“[H]is energy in film sessions and all of our work away from the game is, like the mental energy he brings to the team and the positivity,” the head coach said
“There’s so much noise around our team and negativity, and he doesn’t let that allow that to filter into our group. We remain focused on the group and building the habits we need to do, have a figure-it-out type of mindset and his mental energy in our film sessions and practices is another great way he’s been leading us.”
James believes getting ‘dirty work’ players back will lead to success for Lakers
James has carried an extraordinary burden on his shoulders since mid-December while most of his teammates kept going in and out of the rotation due to the virus.
But the All-Star forward believes L.A.’s toughest days are over thanks to the return of the players who do the “dirty work” for the Lakers.
“We’re getting our glue guys back like Austin Reaves, Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, all our guys that do the dirty work for us,” James said.
“And that’s something that we were missing when those guys were out in protocols. Our dirty work guys, our glue guys. And now as they continue to come back in, now we added another dirty work player and glue guy in Stanley Johnson over the last couple games.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!