What once seemed like a longshot but slowly gained traction was realized on July 1, 2018, when LeBron James announced he agreed to sign a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only was James joining the Lakers, he was doing so in the form of a longterm commitment and without another star first coming to terms with the franchise. James’ arrival immediately accelerates the Lakers’ rebuilding phase.
However, he and the relatively young roster face a tall order in the competitive Western Conference. Moreover, the likes of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma will now be under the intense microscope that comes with playing alongside James.
That’s among the aspects Larry Nance Jr. spoke to his former teammates about in terms of playing with James, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenanim and Ohm Youngmisuk:
“Yeah, I talked to J-Hart about it, Kuz a little bit,” Nance told ESPN about playing with James. “He is demanding. He just demands the same level of professionalism and effort that he gives to his teammates, which [is] respect. But the biggest thing I told them is that, on the court, be ready at all times. Like, if you have your hands down and you are open, you will get hit in the face with the basketball. Seriously.”
He told his good friend Hart to be ready for the scrutiny that comes with being James’ teammate.
“Yeah, you got to have thick skin,” Nance said.
Along with Jordan Clarkson, Nance was essentially thrown into the fire as they were dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline. Not only did they suddenly join a team with championship aspirations for the first time in their careers, Clarkson and Nance were expected to be key to a playoff run.
Nance did manage to have some productive minutes for the Cavs, but Clarkson struggled off the bench, particularly in the NBA Finals.
For their part, Hart and Kuzma are among the young Lakers who have fully embraced the looming challenge and opportunity to play with James.