Age is presumably a factor. James is eight years older than Davis, secure in his legacy and at a point in his career when he needs more help than he would care to admit. But it also reflects supreme respect for Davis’s talents — how he is perfectly suited, as a two-way menace who looks ominously bigger than his listed height of 6-foot-10, to complement James’s all-court game. “If you saw their chemistry off the floor, it’s no wonder they’re the best duo in the N.B.A.,” Jared Dudley, the veteran Lakers forward, said of James and Davis.
In the last few minutes of the game, James and Davis embraced near the bench. It appeared Davis was trying to gather his thoughts and take in the moment. James, sources told Yahoo Sports, was telling his co-star that this is what they’re consistently capable of and he reassured Davis that he always believed in him.
They’re now tied with the Boston Celtics for the most NBA championships with 17. Headed for Year 18, James remains on a mission. “We’ve got more work to do,” sources said James told Davis during their celebration in the locker room.
Davis chose to make some adjustments before arriving in Los Angeles. In New Orleans, he was known for being sidelined with nagging injuries. But when competing for a title, steady health is imperative. James introduced Davis to his nutrition plan and recommended he receive preventative maintenance treatment on a regular basis, sources said.
Ryan Ward: LeBron on AD (1/2): "You guys ask me about my relationship with AD, the first thing I think about is the respect, the no ego, the challenging each other. We want each other to be better than actually ourselves. I want AD to be better than me.."
Ryan Ward: LeBron on partnership w/ AD (1/2): "I can't really explain it. There's just certain things you just know. And any type of relationship, you kind of just feel, you know that vibe. You have that respect.."
Spectrum SportsNet: "He different, it's that simple." @KingJames with @LakersReporter on @AntDavis23's game-winning three, Denver's second half surge, and discusses justice for the LA County deputies & Breonna Taylor. #LakeShow
More importantly, James realized that he and Davis shared mutual values. “We’re not trying to be nobody else but our own identity, our own self,” James said. “When you know yourself and when you’re confident in what you do both on and off the floor and you know what you represent, then there’s no ego. We want both of us to succeed, both on and off the floor. We want our families to be happy. We want each other to try to be as happy as possible. There’s no ego, so, when you’re able to figure that out in life – who you are and what you stand for, then, nothing else matters.”
The biggest change to LeBron’s game, and the primary reason Davis is leading the Lakers in scoring, is LeBron is neither getting to the foul line nor knocking down enough of his shots when he gets there. LeBron had a good night in this regard against the Knicks, going 7-of-7 from the stripe. But overall, he’s averaging a career-low 5.5 free throws and making 3.8 of them (also a career low). Last year, LeBron’s free-throw percentage of .665 was a career worst, but the 68.8 percent of free throws he’s making this year is the third-worst shooting of his 17 seasons. He’s shooting 6.2 3-pointers per game, which is, you guessed it, a career high.
Through their first nine games, James had assisted Davis on 26 baskets, 10 more than any other teammate, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Compare that to his first nine games with Bosh, when it was 17 assists, and his first nine with Love, which produced only 11. Their pick-and-rolls have resulted in the highlight dunks that fans love and a schematic nightmare for opposing coaches. And even though they sometimes are caught a little out of position, there's a natural flow that's easy to see. "I think that's part of [LeBron's] genius that he's able to morph into whatever he needs to be, to bring out the best out of the other players," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team faced the Lakers last week. "His connection with [Bosh] was pretty natural, and I think this is, this just fits like a glove. ... When both guys want to do it, commit to the process of getting better with it, you're just going to see that improve dramatically as the season goes on."
If he wanted to, Chris Bosh could coach up a different niche group: big men playing with LeBron James. "Playing with LeBron was like buying a Ferrari," Bosh said. "You know it's the best in the world. It looks amazing when you see it. But you have no idea how powerful it is once you try to drive it. You can go right off the road."
Tania Ganguli: LeBron on wanting the offense to run through AD: "If we’re not playing through Anthony Davis while he’s on the floor then it makes no sense to have him on the floor. Because he’s that great."
February 26, 2021 | 1:45 pm EST Update
Because of the secretive nature of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, nobody can pinpoint why Chris Webber hasn’t gotten the nod yet. “Yes it has bothered me but it’s not something that’s made me bitter or something you think about all the time,” Webber told Yahoo Sports. “The validation of the best players that have ever played in the world has been enough for me. Every year around this time, you get that call, right after that call you get legends calling you. You get to reminiscing with them about disappointments in their lives.”
While Webber waits for the call, though, he’s joined with JW Asset Management to launch a $100 million private equity cannabis fund that will invest in companies led by minority entrepreneurs pursuing careers in the cannabis sector. Since federal and state laws have eased up on marijuana, business has boomed but Black people have largely been shut out. Webber hopes to change that.
“First it’s about business and access to individuals who are qualified,” Webber said. “And giving access to a community that’s so unfairly targeted by racist laws. Hopefully, there’s a freedom with that. I’ve seen families devastated by a plant that can cause so much healing and restoration. And now that others are trying to take advantage of it.”