Lakers say they’re building vintage championship contender
By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) – LeBron James has heard the basketball world talk about the Los Angeles Lakers being too old, and he’s laughing – literally and figuratively.
“Some of the memes and some of the jokes were extremely funny,” James said with a smile on Tuesday.
At 36, James is on a list of his peers as he enters his 19th NBA season. Nine of the 14 current Lakers players are 32 or older, including eight of their 11 new additions – and Anthony Davis has a high mileage of 28. Based on late moves, the Lakers’ average age is likely to be almost 31 years old. which would be two years older than any other NBA roster.
But instead of focusing on the birthdates of his new teammates in the 1980s, James thinks people should focus on the skills, experience and athleticism represented by all those numbers. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and a cast of accomplished NBA veterans team up with James and Davis, and they’re confident they can prove that age isn’t a barrier to their incredible talent just yet.
“We go out and we put in the time, we put in the work,” James said. “We create our own story. One thing we know (is) who we are. We have a bunch of guys who have been in this league for a while who understand and know what it takes to win. The company we are in is winning and doing it all the time.
The rest of James’ new teammates react to questions of their age with the same eyebrows raised. The Lakers all seem to be wondering why skeptics don’t realize these players outlasted dozens of young NBA players for very good reasons.
“It’s never bulletin board material, because it’s someone else’s story,” said Anthony, James’s colleague from the 2003 draft class. “We don’t often have reports. times like this where you have a bunch of guys with that stature on a team that all love each other, it’s hard to find.
The Lakers gathered at their media day training complex on Tuesday exactly three weeks before their regular season opener against Golden State at Staples Center.
With just three players returning from last season’s squad, the Lakers realize they have work to do and they’ve already started to bond with a recent weekend in Las Vegas. They hope to find a rhythm quickly with a roster also including newcomers DeAndre Jordan, Rajon Rondo, Kent Bazemore, Trevor Ariza and Lakers three-time center Dwight Howard – as well as youngsters Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn.
James isn’t worried about finding a rhythm with Westbrook, the Los Angeles native dominating the Lakers landed ball in a successful trade with Washington after averaging a triple-double yet again last season. The third-highest scorer in NBA history cited his years of experience alongside talented teammates ranging from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
“I’m very cerebral about what I need to do to make our team as good as possible, and also to (complement) what Russ brings to the table,” said James. “I still understand it. I don’t think it will be like peanut butter and jelly to start the season, but it’s part of the process and part of my job. I really enjoy working to understand how great this can be. “
The Lakers have also taken a big step towards usability and health by having their list fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Even Bazemore, an outspoken vaccine skeptic last season at Golden State, received his first dose and is eager to get his second.
Bazemore said he decided to get the shot after a conversation about life and philosophy with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.
“One thing you don’t want to have is regret,” Bazemore said. “What if I go to another team or miss this season because I didn’t and have to watch these guys party with the Larry O’Brien Trophy because I didn’t? , I’d be hurt enough. “
James also confirmed he had been vaccinated, ending rumors about his previous reluctance to disclose his status. He acknowledged the initial “skepticism” about the vaccine, but decided it was the right decision to stay healthy for his teammates and family.
Health nullified the Lakers ‘title defense last season: Davis, James and several complementary players were limited or unable to play throughout Los Angeles’ first round loss to Phoenix.
Davis’ absences have been the most crushing for the Lakers in the past two years, and the big man is keen to be more enduring. As one of the young Lakers who is just entering his ninth NBA season, he sees this as a responsibility.
“I didn’t feel comfortable missing so many games,” said Davis. “Not being able to play full blast in the playoffs against Phoenix… that didn’t suit me. I put the emphasis on taking care of my body, getting my body back to what it was in terms of strength in my first year here.
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