LeBron James developed a profound rapport with Anthony Davis during their first season playing together on the Los Angeles Lakers. The two superstars bonded right away, with their fearsome partnership propelling the franchise to its 17th NBA title.
Some consider Davis to be the best teammate James has ever had by his side. The 35-year-old forward has without a doubt played with a slate of great players in his illustrious career. But as his rift with Kyrie Irving shows, talent — and even titles — did not instantly make the now four-time NBA champion and some of his former teammates a great match.
Irving left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017, following an apparent fallout with James. A few months ago, the now-Brooklyn Nets guard said Kevin Durant, returning from a season-long layoff caused by an Achilles injury, would be his first-ever teammate capable of making crunch-time shots.
James did not respond to Irving’s comments at the time. But he broke his silence recently, telling Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton on the “Road Trippin’” podcast how he was impacted by the remarks, via ESPN:
“I was a little like, ‘Damn.’ Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,'” James said, adding that he made sure to read Irving’s full comments before reacting to them. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.’ Because … I played with Kyrie for three seasons [with the Cleveland Cavaliers]. The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor. And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”
Irving and James did combine to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, bringing the first Cavaliers’ title to Cleveland.
James, Davis may swap numbers for 2021-22
James welcomed Davis by gifting him his No. 23 jersey when the forward arrived in L.A. last year. However, he was said to have missed the deadline to make the change, preventing the switch from happening.
But James has recently suggested on Instagram he will eventually pass the jersey on to Davis for the 2021-22 season, bringing back his No. 6 shirt instead — and proving how strong their relationship is.
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