Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Cried When Watching LeBron James Play Live For First Time
D'Angelo Russell, LeBron James, Lakers
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is in the midst of his 21st NBA season, and with that comes playing alongside players who grew up watching the early stages of his career. Take Lakers teammate D’Angelo Russell for example. When James made his NBA debut, Russell was seven years old. When James won his first NBA title in 2012, Russell was in high school.

Russell’s rookie season in the NBA was when James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a historic 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. And now, eight years later, the two are on the Lakers together with James still serving as one of the best players in the league. Russell has essentially never known a world in which James was not one of the best players on Earth.

And as James approaches another historic benchmark — the 40,000 career point threshold — it gave Russell a chance to reminisce on what LeBron’s career has meant to him, going all the way back to the first game he ever attended in person.

“He’s the first person I saw play in the NBA, to be honest,” Russell said. “My dad took me to my first NBA game, it was against the Pacers. I’m from Kentucky so that was our pro team and they played the Cavs. I was a big LeBron fan. He did that signature dunk. I remember crying.

“Being at the game as a fan and watching him do that dunk that he always did on commercials and all that. And seeing him do it, I remember crying vividly. That was when I was like, this is where I want to be. He’s inspired me without even knowing it. He’s continuing to inspire the youth and his teammates, but the youth as a whole, everybody kind of looks up to a guy like him. He paves the way for us on and off the floor, just a true role model. So I’m not surprised by anything he’s doing. I won’t be surprised by anything he continues to do. The sky is really the limit for him and what he’s done for this game.”

Today, Russell continues to be amazed at what James accomplishes on a nightly basis, to the point where he almost loses sight of the fact that James is in Year 21.

“I mean, I forget that. The way he plays and his energy. If you try to compare how high he jumps when he first got to the league until now, obviously it’s a little dropoff, but he’s still jumping over dudes and doing all this athletic stuff. For me, I’m not surprised,” Russell said.

“I think he’s still capable, he’s still got it. He’s still got some years under his belt. You’re seeing year 21. Might be seeing year 25 when you look up. So I’m not surprised.”

It’s moments like these that cement James’ legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game, as he has been dominating for so long, children have grown up watching him, only to become teammates nearly 10 seasons into their own NBA careers.

D’Angelo Russell worked on no-dip 3-pointers because of LeBron James

Playing alongside James has rejuvenated Russell’s career as the guard is getting plenty of good looks from beyond the arc when defenses want to wall off the King. Russell’s been excellent as a spot-up shooter and he hit a crucial corner 3 against the Clippers to seal the win for the Lakers.

Russell caught a bullet pass from James and rose up without doing the normal dip that shooter’s use to get momentum on their jumpers. The guard also did it in the recent loss to the Phoenix Suns and explained it’s a move he’s worked on since teaming up with James.

“Just skill, I work on it,” Russell said. “It’s the first year I’ve had to work on things like that being around one of the best players ever LeBron. He throws some of the passes you’re not expecting. They get there. They might not be the best pass every time, but they get there. So for me, I try to practice with Micah and those guys on ways to prepare myself for those game-like passes and it’s working.”

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