A bemused LeBron James has a message for anyone critical of his mentorship of the NBA’s young stars:
“Anybody that says, ‘LeBron, why would he do that while he’s playing? He’s showing signs of weakness, he’s buddy-buddy with these guys he’s going against.’ Tell ’em to kiss my ass. With a smile, too.”
James finished 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds Sunday night to lead the visiting Los Angeles Lakers past the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114.
Zion Williamson poured in 35 points and marveled at James’ clutch play.
Per The AP:
“He is who he is — incredible player,” Williamson said of James. “I give respect when it’s due. He hit a big shot and it helped them seal the game.”
His dominance served as an emphatic encore to his season-high 40 points in a victory over New Orleans six days earlier in Los Angeles.
“He just controls the whole game,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “You go down and double him, and he finds the open pass for 3. If you don’t double him, he’s so strong and so skilled that he just lays the ball in the basket. … I’m just amazed that they talk about anybody other than him for MVP.”
James approached Williamson and spoke with him briefly on the court after the final horn.
“It’s just my responsibility. No one told me to do that,” James said. “You see all these guys — these young guys. You know, the league is in a very good place and if I’m able to give my wisdom of the game, pass it down while I’m playing or after I’m playing, I feel like it’s my job because the game has just given me so much since I started playing when I was 8 years old.”