Once again, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James defied what many believe should be a possible for an NBA player at his age. LeBron led the way with 31 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and five steals as the Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns in the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.
Many questioned whether the players would actually care about something like this during the season, but LeBron feels that the competitiveness of players around the league will always come out when there is some incentive.
“Well, like I said, in my postgame [interview] on the floor, you got some of the most alpha male competitors in the world,” the Lakers star noted. “And if you give us an opportunity to play for something, something meaningful with an incentive, you’ll get what you’re getting.
“And I know the competitive nature of myself and our competitive nature, and this guy next to me, in our DN and what we’re trying to build for this team. So the In-Season Tournament is what it is. I mean, it’s fun. It’s fun, and then on top of that, us going up against two monster players when it comes to the D-Book and KD has added even more.”
Anthony Davis was a monster as well for the Lakers with 27 points, 15 rebounds (9 offensive) and two blocks as the Lakers stars were able to outduel the Suns stars on this night. But for LeBron, in his 21st NBA season, to still be capable of performances like this is just unbelievable.
And while many focus on the physical aspect, for LeBron himself it’s all about the mental side at this stage.
“I think it’s definitely more mental than physical at this point in my career,” LeBron added. “Just mentally showing up hours and hours and hours before the actual game to start to prepare my mind, body and soul for however many minutes I’m going to play.
“Commanding the most out of my teammates, commanding the most out of myself, holding everybody accountable, including myself, and the mental side is definitely more stressful than the actual body.”
Staying mentally focused on a daily basis and embracing that grind is something that most simply are not capable of but LeBron James is not most people. In 2022 there were commercials about LeBron taking on ‘Father Time’ and while they were humorous, James is intent on defeating him.
“But like I said, if I continue to keep my mind as fresh as possible, continue to put the work in, I’ll give myself an opportunity to just surprise myself still when I’m able to do you know, for as long as I’ve been in this league and for as many miles I’ve put on these tires.
“So I want to continue to define how I continue to have this battle with Father Time that for so long, as everybody said, has been undefeated. So I’m trying to give him one loss.”
If anyone is capable of handing out that first loss, it is LeBron James.
Lakers’ LeBron James discusses controversial timeout call vs. Suns
Much of the talk after the Lakers win over the Suns was focused on a controversial ruling by the officials who granted the Lakers a timeout at a time when it looked like the ball was loose. LeBron James spoke on that play after the game.
“I was able to hit AR, and I felt Book kind of pushed up on him a little bit kind of made AR stumble,” James said. “And as soon as I saw AR start to stumble a little bit, I started to make the notion and the voice to the referee that was closest to me for a timeout.
“After that, I heard the commotion, the ball was loose, whatever the case may be, but my direction was right towards the referee to get us a timeout for sure.”
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