Perhaps the most unsung of the Los Angeles Lakers’ signings this offseason has been Kent Bazemore. While many of the additions are known more for their offense, Bazemore has made his name in the NBA on the ball’s defensive side, and no one knows that more than Lakers superstar LeBron James himself.
Bazemore had his most individual and team success after leaving the Lakers, signing with the Atlanta Hawks, where he spent plenty of time matched up with James. This included playoff meetings in both 2015 and 2016, where things got pretty heated as Bazemore is known to be extremely intense.
But regardless of their prior history, Bazemore has the utmost respect for James and hopes to meet with him in person to discuss some of those heated moments.
“It’s something I want to do face-to-face, get to sit down maybe during training camp or something, get to talk about it,” Bazemore said. “But I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done for the game of basketball. Even winning the last championship down in the bubble, I was down there and realized how crazy of a grind it was for them to get it done, it showed a lot.”
Bazemore has made a career in this league because of his intensity, defense, and relentlessness, which has served him well thus far. He has always wanted to go against the best and facing off with LeBron allowed him to do just that, and he takes pride in the fact that he never backed down.
“Even when I was in college and he was in the league, I always wanted to play against him and go against him, and I got my chance my first year in Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Finals, and I realized how different of a beast he was and I lost a lot of sleep having to guard him,” Bazemore noted. “Even when we played them, he chirped me, his team put me on the floor a little bit, but I didn’t back down, and I think that just kind of drove me to wanting to beat him. I would say it’s probably a mutual respect, obviously, I don’t have near the track record he has, but he’ll probably say in 15 years that I was one of the guys that never backed down and even in practice, it ain’t gonna change.”
Bazemore’s attitude will remind many Lakers fans of the man Kobe Bryant said was his toughest defender, Tony Allen. Both always looked forward to the toughest challenge and would never back down from anyone, which the Lakers will need on this team.
While Bazemore has worked hard to improve his shooting and is coming off a career year from three-point range, it is his defense that stands to get him minutes on this Lakers roster. Considering the team’s losses on the perimeter defensive front, Bazemore could play a big role this season.
Dwight Howard believes the key to Lakers building chemistry is sacrifice
But Bazemore remains one of many Lakers players who will be looking to earn regular minutes on this roster, and not everyone will do so. But Dwight Howard believes that everyone sacrificing for a common goal is what will help the team build chemistry together.
“I just think it’s about sacrifice,” Howard said. “What are you willing to give up to get the trophy? And I think everybody on this team has had all the accolades possible, so I think we’re willing to give up anything of ourselves for the betterment of the team.”