Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was very excited to welcome in the team’s newest additions while appearing on “Road Trippin'” with Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton.
One of the players James raved about was NBA champion and former Defensive Player of the Year winner Marc Gasol. In the 2012-2013 season, Gasol played on one of the best defensive teams of all time in the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol and Tony Allen both finished in the top five in voting, but it was ultimately Gasol who walked away with the award. In second place, however, was MVP winner James. He was very close to winning both MVP and DPOY in the same season, and on “Road Trippin’,” he jokingly claimed that Gasol stole the award from him.
Gasol responded to these comments, saying that he’d love to discuss it with James over a glass of wine, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“We can talk over it with some wine if he wants to. If it’s anybody’s trophy, I believe that trophy is for the Grizzlies. The team that deserved to have that trophy was the Grizzlies. For some reason they picked me. If anybody could claim that trophy, it’s Tony Allen. At the same time — not that I want to or care about — but I could say I’ve been stolen from All-NBA First Team. I believe I should be there, but I don’t care. We can have a good laugh about it if he wants to. If not, I’m sure he can go get it this year too if he wants to.”
That season, Gasol finished second in defensive win shares and first in defensive box plus-minus, so him winning the award is certainly well-deserved. However, there is an argument to be made that James was a better individual defender that season, while Gasol had the benefit of being on the best defensive team.
Luckily, neither player seems to be taking it too seriously, and it appears that they’re happy to be teamed up together. They’ll both need to work hard on the defensive end if the Lakers want to preserve their identity from last season.
Frank Vogel looking to ease team into preseason, training camp
The Lakers, while trying to return with the same defensive energy from last season, will have the added barrier of having the shortest offseason. Head coach Frank Vogel recognized this, and is using it to create a balance between rest and hard work.
“We’re going to have to on a day-to-day basis try to strike that balance,” he said. “Not overdo it early and make them vulnerable to injuries in camp, while still getting them ready so they’re not vulnerable when the games come around.”
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