The Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday night after Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns simply took command of things from Game 5 and beyond. For LeBron James, he suffered his first ever loss in the first round of the postseason and — despite injuries being a major factor — got thoroughly outplayed by Booker.
Booker finished Game 6 with 47 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists on 15-of-22 from the field and 8-for-10 from three, showing just remarkable efficiency with the series on the line. It caught the attention of James, who met up with Booker after the game to sign a jersey for the young star.
James spoke about what he saw from Booker throughout the series and what makes him so special. “Well first of all, I love everything about DBook,” James said. “I’ve had numerous conversations with him in the past and he continues to make the jump. When you want to be great in this league, and as he said, as Kobe told him to be legendary. When you want to be legendary in this game you got to continue to improve not only your game but you as a man and everything both on and off the floor.”
“And the conversations I’ve had over the years, I can tell he’s soaked them up and is using them to his advantage and everyone sees what he’s able to do out on the floor right now but I think his maturity, him as a young man is what I’m most impressed about. So I love everything about Book so that’s the postgame interaction.”
Continue to be great… pic.twitter.com/NIPCrDVSao
— NBA (@NBA) June 4, 2021
James went on to discuss the plentiful young talent in the NBA today and whether or not it motivates him to come back stronger.
“I don’t need motivation from anybody in this league. I motivate myself. I’m motivated by my kids and my family and the love of this game. But take nothing away from it, there’s some young guns in this game, Book, Donovan Mitchell, Luka, Ja Morant, so many guys that are like 22 and under or 23 and under who are just flat out special, and that was just to name a few.”
“Jayson Tatum, let me not forget about him, how special he is. But those guys are great and the game is always gonna be in great hands with guys like that. But my motivation doesn’t come from that, my motivation comes from like I said, my family, myself, my kids in my I Promise School back home that I get an opportunity to see. Today was their last day of school, that was motivating to me and things of that nature. So I’m past the motivating stage of the younger group.”
The league is absolutely in good hands, and these playoffs are proof of that. Nearly every first-round series had at least 1-2 young stars that showed what their potential is moving forward. In the Lakers-Suns series, it was Booker.
Now, the Lakers face a big offseason — and one in which they can finally rest their bodies from the 2020 season — while Booker and the Suns advance to play the Denver Nuggets and their younger star in Nikola Jokic in the second round.
James frustrated Lakers never played at full strength
Outside of a 29-game stretch to begin the 2020-21 season, the Lakers were legitimately never healthy, and it wound up being their downfall. James spoke about the frustration that came with that truth.
“We couldn’t ever fully get into and rhythm and never really kind of see the full potential of what we’re capable of. But all in all, I give my hats off to everyone on this team who showed up every day to work, showed up every day to compete, showed up every day to put the time and effort and we obviously fell short of our goal but we tried to do everything we could to be as good as we could be, as great as we could be under the circumstances. Also want to shoutout Phoenix too. Monty Williams, Book and that team, they were excellent throughout this series, all of them. So, much respect.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!