The summer has become one of the best times to follow the NBA as so many moves are made that change the entire landscape of the league. This year, the biggest change without a doubt was LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The move sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and as Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan admitted, Eastern Conference coaches were just fine with James moving over to the West.
On the other end of that spectrum, of course, is Western Conference teams that now have to see James more than twice a year, and Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle already sees the difference.
“It’s made the West considerably harder, because the Lakers now are up into the thick of the playoff picture,” Carlisle said before the Lakers’ 114-103 victory over Dallas. “They’re on the come-up as a team, they’re getting better all the time.
“Look, it’s one of the dynamic realities of this league, is that you can have a guy that’s that good all of a sudden flip conferences. Hell, he may even end up in your division. We’re lucky he’s not in our division, but we’re still playing these guys four times this year. The way we’ve got to look at it is it’s four opportunities to play against one of the best ever, to compete at the highest level and get our team better.”
Carlisle is one of the most respected coaches in the entire league and has seen a lot throughout his near 30-year coaching career. Even still he struggled to find the words to detail what James is capable of.
“The guy is so great I can’t even begin to describe him. I mean, I don’t know what to say about him. With the ball, without the ball, it doesn’t matter. He’s a monstrosity of a player,” Carlisle added.
“Just never ceases to amaze me each year the way he not only keeps going but refines his game even more, becomes even smarter if that’s possible, and makes all his teammates better. He’s certainly changed a lot here for the better. The fact that he has the ball more is not a good thing for the Mavericks.”
It certainly wasn’t a good thing as James finished with 28 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as the Lakers improved to 2-0 this season against Carlisle’s Mavericks. Regardless, the respect that James garners throughout the NBA serves as a reminder as to why he’s one of the greatest to ever play the game.