Seven seconds into the Los Angeles Lakers’ first meeting with the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 22, LeBron James and Grant Williams got into it. James was trying to get to his spot and Williams would not allow the star to run through him.
It is rare to see the four-time champion get into with players, especially that early into a game, but James maintained his composure as the two got into a bit of a shoving match. Both he and Williams stayed in the game as it seemed no words were exchanged, and the teams played on with no other scuffles for the rest of the night.
Players often try to get under the 39-year-old’s skin, but he has simply seen everything throughout his 21 years in the NBA so nothing seems to bother him.
When recounting the scuffle in an interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, Williams explained why it happened and revealed that he ended up getting a signed jersey because of it:
“Prior to that, we were in practice and I think I was challenged in a way of saying like, you’re a physical person but I don’t think anybody fears you or is intimidated by you. That next game, that wasn’t an intentional thing. I remember I just stood in front of him and kind of stood him up and then he tried to run through me. And I was just like you’re not about to run through me so I threw my shoulder into him. Neither one of us were like ready to fight or move on past it but it was like OK, he was kind of taken a back by it. All the referees were surprised too, we just kind of kept walking as if nothing happened. If you ask Bron about the moment I would love to hear his response about what he thought initially. I’ve always been big on never backing down from anyone, no matter what standing or person you are, I’m willing to speak up or be a guy that’s gonna not be pushed over. There’s definitely got to be a level of respect. I have jerseys at my house and I told whether it’s the player I asked or star, whoever it is, I said until you respect me as a player, don’t give me your jersey and the day that you respect me, can you give me your jersey and that’s gonna be my signal of saying OK, I earned this guy’s respect and I’ll have to continue proving and showing why I earned it later. I think I ended up getting Bron’s jersey that following week. It meant a lot because it’s Bron, I grew up watching this dude. I look at it and it’s like, it’s pretty cool to be able to have not just a signature but a note on the jersey in my house. My friend back home, I FaceTimed him that night and I was like bro, you’re not gonna believe this.”
Williams took the challenge to heart as he has been a physical 3-and-D player ever since he got in the league and brought some of the edge to the Mavericks when he signed this summer.
He is always given the toughest assignment and none tougher than the all-time leading scorer, but he let James know that it was not going to be easy for him, which seemed to be something that LeBron respected as Williams solidified himself in the league.
There will be more matchups between these two teams and players in the future, but it is now clear that James and Williams share a mutual respect for one another.
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