Despite being in Year 18, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James put up an MVP-worthy 2020-21 season before getting hurt in March.
Although James was able to return in time for the playoffs, the Lakers were unable to fend off a rash of injuries and saw their championship defense fall short. James sounded off on the NBA for the injuries caused by the rush to start the season, but unfortunately, there is nothing to be done about it now.
Because James has been in the league for so long, the new wave of rookies and young players actually grew up watching him. Memphis Grizzlies rookie Desmond Bane is one of those players, and according to Quenton S. Albertie of SLAM, he called guarding the Lakers star his welcome to the NBA moment:
Right! Bron! For sure! Bron!
I mean the first time that we played the Lakers. We played the Lakers about, I would say, five games, six games into the season, so it was still early on, I’m getting a feel for things. And we had played I think maybe one playoff team—one or two playoff teams—and, you know, they were coming off a championship and being hungry for another one.
I think that that was my real “Welcome to the NBA” moment.
There was stretches when I guarding LeBron and I was like man, “this dude is so damn big. Shit crazy.”
But yeah, you know, it was cool. It was cool.
Bane himself is a bigger perimeter player at 6’5″ and 216 pounds, but James is a physical specimen whose size, strength, and physicality can overmatch most players. The Lakers and Grizzlies played each other twice in a row at the start of the season, with Los Angeles winning both matchups, but they must have been good experiences for Bane as he acclimated to NBA play.
As new players continue to filter into the league, James will surely be handing out more welcome moments, but in the meantime, he and the Lakers will be solely focused on raising Banner No. 18.
LeBron James could be done with Olympics
James had to endure playing through a sprained ankle for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, so he decided to decline an invite to suit up for Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At 36-years-old, it is hard to imagine James representing the country once again, and Team USA Director Jerry Colangelo believes that his time as an Olympian is over.