JR Smith was a logical choice for the Los Angeles Lakers to sign to the roster in the wake of Avery Bradley’s decision to opt out of the 2019-20 NBA restart. Smith brings with him championship experience, an ability to space the floor, and perhaps most importantly, a strong relationship with LeBron James.
The two played together as members of a Cleveland Cavaliers team that won the NBA title, and it was during that time a strong bond was forged. Being teammates for multiple seasons has given Smith the unique experience of being able to critique James multiple years apart.
“I say more than anything he’s more patient now. I think when he was younger he had a shorter fuse with things,” Smith shared. “He lets things roll off his back pretty easily now; whether it be a good thing or bad thing. It doesn’t change his work ethic, but I think he’s more relatable and easier to get along with.
“He’s always been so focused on his drive and winning and stuff like that, but I feel like that pressure is off his shoulders. He can be him. He doesn’t have to try to orchestrate the offense or the defense. He can let the coaches do their job, and I think that’s a true testament of him growing.
“I’ve watched interviews and people try to say he’s ‘uncoachable’ because he knows so much about the game. But he’s probably the most coachable person out there. Just because he gives you his side or his opinion, he might be right, but more than anything he’s so much more patient in his delivery and how he goes about the process of the game.
“If he sees something he doesn’t like, of course he’s going to say something, but I think he gives people more of an opportunity to voice their opinion and do their job.”
James’ stature as a player and leader could understandably make it difficult for his teammates and coaches, but so far Los Angeles has raved about how he has managed the team through the course of the season. He has been touted as a model teammate and someone that goes out of his way to ensure everyone is happy and comfortable.
Frank Vogel praises LeBron
Heading into the season, there were questions as to how James would take to being coached under Frank Vogel.
Vogel was coming off an unsuccessful head coaching stint with the Orlando Magic and had no previous ties to the three-time NBA champion. There have been plenty of reports about James’ dissatisfaction with previous head coaches, and Vogel was thought to be next in line.
However, that does not seem to be the case in the slightest. “I can’t comment on how he was in the past, but he’s been extremely coachable for me and our coaching staff,” Vogel said.
“He and I have established a great partnership. I rely on his input on day-to-day decisions and the way we’re doing things. Ultimately, I have to veto him in certain situations if we have to make sure we’re not going too long in practice in whatnot. But he’s been absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t ask for anything better from his coachability standpoint.”
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