Lakers Video: Phil Handy Recalls Telling LeBron James He Doesn’t Play Hard Enough In Regular Season
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has been known for his competitiveness and win-or-bust mindset, which have led him to four NBA championships.

Last month, James put his perfectionism on display again while describing his obsession with winning on “The Shop.”

“What makes me have sleepless nights is when you don’t have everyone that feels the same way on your club,” the 37-year-old said.

Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy recently recalled how misjudging James’ commitment backfired during their time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Following the All-Star forward’s return to Cleveland in 2014, Handy thought James didn’t play hard enough in the regular season and raised his concerns with the Cavaliers star.

Later, I was just like ‘Nah, that’s not it,’” Handy said on “No Chill with Gilbert Arenas”:

“The playoffs started — so I had never been around Bron in the playoffs,” Handy continued. “Man, that Zero Dark 23 s—… Gil, this is a true story for me. Bro, after Game 3 in the playoffs, I went to him and apologized.

“I was like ‘Bro, I got to apologize, to you man because I was clowning you during the regular season.’”

Handy added James explained to the then-Cavaliers assistant that he manages the intensity of his game during the year to make sure his form peaks in the postseason.

The Lakers coach understands the difference between the regular season and the playoffs now having won three NBA championships in his career — two with James on his team in 2016 and 2020.

“You get in that playoffs, and to win and to be elite, you have to have another switch,” Handy said.

Lakers reportedly set ‘soft deadline’ to trade Russell Westbrook

James’ desire to win more rings appears to be what has put him at odds with Russell Westbrook — with a breakdown in their relationship visible during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League.

The All-Star forward is reportedly pressuring the Lakers to trade the 2017 NBA MVP and the Purple and Gold are believed to have held talks with different teams about trading the 33-year-old guard.

Latest rumors claim that training camp is a ‘soft deadline’ to move Westbrook amid concerns about how his relationship with James and the Lakers could impact the pre-season preparations.

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