The Los Angeles Lakers opened training camp at UCLA Health Training Center on Tuesday morning with a practice that included plenty of physicality and concluded with a heated three-point competition.
It saw Michael Beasley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo take down a team of superior shooters in Brandon Ingram, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Lance Stephenson. “It’s all about competition,” James said following his first official practice with the Lakers.
“At the end it was just a shooting competition, getting the competitive juices flowing again, which is always a great thing.”
The Lakers finished their morning session, the first of two practices scheduled for the day, with basketballs in their hand, but the day did not begin that way. Like he indicated would be the case, head coach Luke Walton emphasized defense.
That was of benefit even for someone like James, who’s in the 16th training camp of his career. “It was just a teaching day with a new group. So it was all teaching and putting in what we want to do to get better,” James said.
“All defense today. We got a lot of smart guys, a lot of veterans. And then the young guys that were already here last year, they already know the terminology, so we picked it up pretty fast. Listen, everyone was excited to get back to work, and that’s a good thing. No one was coming in today wishing it was still summer time. Everyone is excited.”
Players huddled around James at the end of the shooting competition, but he otherwise didn’t use the day to make it about establishing his presence. “All Luke today,” answered James when asked if he addressed the team before practice.
“Luke and the coaching staff had a great first practice.”