EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Oddsmakers in Las Vegas might consider them the favorites, and desire to repent for the 2018-19 debacle of a season might be palpable, but LeBron James is doing his best to keep the burden of expectations off the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
“I’m very motivated, but I’m right now not in talking-about-it mode,” James said Friday at the team’s annual media day. “Been very quiet this summer, for a reason. My mother always taught me, ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it.’ That’s where I’m at. As a team, me myself, need to get the Lakers back to what they’ve been accustomed to every year, so excited about that.”
The 16-time champions have been in a rut lately, missing the playoffs for a franchise-worst six consecutive years. The joy surrounding James’ arrival last summer was short-lived as injuries, trade speculation and Magic Johnson’s shocking resignation sabotaged the four-time MVP’s inaugural campaign.
Yet optimism floated through the Lakers’ practice facility on the eve of training camp, with Anthony Davis, acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans in a June trade, donning the purple and gold as the centerpiece of a new-look roster.
“We do all know how good Anthony Davis is, and if we are not playing through Anthony Davis while he is on the floor, then there’s no sense to have him on the floor,” James said. “He’s that great. It doesn’t mean every time down we throw it to him, we throw it to him, we throw it to him. But we have the ability of doing it.”
Davis, an All-Star in six of his seven seasons in the league, was taken aback by James’ praise.
“Aw, he said that?” Davis asked, almost blushing. “Very kind of him. We’re going to feed off each other tremendously. I think we’re two guys who are very selfless and just want to win. When we have two guys like that, it makes both of our jobs easier.”
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said coach Frank Vogel’s address to the team Friday morning focused not only on L.A.’s big two in James and Davis, but the entire roster of players who will need to support one another.
“It’s about one thing — and it’s the 15 guys in the locker room,” Pelinka said. “I think our biggest opponent is in the mirror. We’ve got to look at ourselves as a team. We’ve got to figure out how we come together as 15 players to be the best team we can be. We have that focus.”