Much has been made of the prior relationship between LeBron James and the newest Los Angeles Lakers signee, JR Smith, as the two won a championship together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, James also is well-acquainted with the other new Lakers guard, Dion Waiters.
Waiters was on the Cavaliers when James first returned to Cleveland, but was traded away after playing just 33 games that season. Coincidentally, it was in the deal that sent Smith to the Cavaliers.
With James believed to be wielding so much power within the Cavaliers organization, some speculated whether he didn’t care too much for Waiters, but the two were actually pretty close.
“People don’t even know, when ‘Bron first got there, he took me under his wing. I was with him every day. We went out to eat every day. A lot things that were out there wasn’t necessarily true. But that’s the media. You know me, I don’t really care,” Waiters said.
“This time around, I’m a little older, I’m a father to three beautiful kids, I’m a little wiser, a little older. I understand what’s at hand. We’ve always had a bond. It was always love any time we saw one another.”
Waiters was only in his third season at that time and had yet to be in the high pressure situations that playing next to LeBron entails. James was trying to take Waiters under his wing, which didn’t resonate well at the time.
“I’m a little older, I’ve seen a lot, been through a lot,” Waiters added. “At this point in my life I just want to play basketball, take care of my family and just enjoy it. Because you never know. You can see it now we’re living in a movie with everything that’s going on. Who would’ve thought we’d be talking like this? You just never know.”
“So I wake up with a goal in mind to just live it day-by-day, take it slow, keep progressing and just try to be a better person on and off the court, and a better father. When you’re young, you’re still trying to find yourself. I think ‘Bron was trying to help me with that, but I was so stubborn. I understand now.”
This is the case with any number of young players throughout sports. It often takes time to truly embrace what it takes to truly succeed, even with people attempting to steer them in the right direction.
Now with Waiters in a better place mentally he has the opportunity to accomplish the same goal in Los Angeles that he hoped to with LeBron in Cleveland.
Waiters thankful for Lakers embrace
Waiters was a late addition to the roster, joining a team with great chemistry that had grown close throughout the season. In situations like this there can be some concerns about fitting in and possibly negatively affecting everything the team has built.
But the Lakers have done a great job of making sure Waiters feels like a part of the team and he is thankful for that.
“Just the vibe. Having that camaraderie, the guys cheering you on, calling you ‘Philly Cheese’ and ‘Say Cheese’ when you hit shots, it’s a little bit of everything. They’ve been great ever since I got here,” Waiters said.
“They welcomed me with open arms. I’m really thankful, to be honest. I’m happy.”
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