It is not hard to find a LeBron hater or lover these days — you’re either one or the other. Personally, he is my favorite player and I love what he brings to the game.
Nearly all players, coaches, and fans have their opinion about every aspect of his style of play, career, and life. There is no doubt that LeBron brings a certain gravity to the NBA and commands the attention of everybody that is associated with the sport.
Recently, Kevin Durant, who needs no introduction, made his opinion known about playing with LeBron. KD made the following comments about LeBron and potential players that he could play with next year in LA to the Bleacher Report
“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi, trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”
And KD goes even further:
“So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people. He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I’m like, we’re playing basketball here, and it’s not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn’t want to be in that environment because it’s toxic. Especially when the attention is bullshit attention, fluff. It’s not LeBron’s fault at all; it’s just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball.”
Pretty harsh, right? Is KD a LeBron hater? Not sure, I love KD too. While some might argue that KD has undoubtedly tainted LeBron’s legacy with his move to the Golden State Warriors, I do not think that is the case.
LeBron’s battles with Golden State has been one for the ages even before KD got there. It has further elevated his game and showed the level he is capable of playing at when called upon; most great players are never put through such a test. Even before the move to Golden State, KD and LeBron had been going at it their entire career.
Their competitive fervor is reminiscent of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s rivalry. Both players are out of this world talented and all-world basketball players on both ends of the floor.
LeBron, however, has shown something KD has not; he can lead a team and carry the load as a leader. And, most importantly, that you can build a championship team around him. And LeBron, in return, has certainly given KD something to shoot for and was, undoubtedly, the driving factor behind his move to Golden State.
Some could even argue that Golden State has a superteam developed to combat LeBron’s reign in the NBA Finals.
While LeBron does command an excess amount of media attention, I disagree with his conclusion that other players may not want to play with him. LeBron has played with, and gotten along with, multiple all-stars in the past, on multiple teams; and with great success in many instances. In the past, this has not been an issue for LeBron.
But, what about Kyrie? LeBron and Kyrie had their beef and this lead to the demise of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving wanted to be the first option and wanted to have his own team. That’s finally what he got in Boston… kind of.
Clearly, he did not want to lead the Cavaliers once LeBron left. While this situation does mirror what KD was saying, let’s not forget that LeBron got along well with D-Wade, Chris Bosh, and Kevin Love — all of which will be Hall of Famers one day.
They have nothing but good things to say about playing with LeBron and they enjoyed their time playing with him. LeBron seems to play well with low key All-Stars that are interested in winning and less interested in the limelight. After all, LeBron has made it to the Finals for the last eight straight years.
So, does LeBron really need multiple All-Stars around him to win? The answer to that is, emphatically, no. What does this mean for the Lakers moving forward?
The Lakers this past offseason lost out on Paul George because they pursued and signed LeBron James. Some marquee free agents such as Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard may not want to play for the Lakers with all of the drama surrounding LeBron
However harsh that may sound, it is not a sunset for the Lakers organization. As long as the young Laker talent drafted by Magic Johnson continues to develop, LA will be competitive for years to come.
And despite all of the narratives around him, LeBron remains stapled to the game.