LOS ANGELES – As N.B.A. The teams migrate to Florida to support the planned restart of the N.B.A. perform later this month. Players have raised a number of concerns.
They are concerned about the corona virus and Florida’s status as one of the hot spots of the pandemic. They are concerned about being separated from their families. They are concerned that they will get stuck in the so-called bubble in Walt Disney World near Orlando for several weeks, if not months. And they are concerned about diverting attention from social justice issues.
LeBron James, who hasn’t spoken publicly since the league’s plans formalized last month, can share this some of these concerns. But it’s also clear – at least for his teammates from Los Angeles Lakers – that he wants this restart to be successful. He is 35, at the back of his heyday. He has a clear shot on another ring, which would be his fourth. The circumstances are strange, but the hunger is the same.
“We know what this is about, and we may not get it back,” said Guardian Guard Danny Green in a zoom conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “If you have a special group, you should use it better.”
The Lakers, who were expected to leave for Florida on Thursday, hope so on the private campus of the N.B.A. stranded in Disney World until the beginning of October until the end of the final. They are expected to play the first of their eight “seeding” games (against the Los Angeles Clippers, another championship candidate) on July 30, before the playoffs begin in mid-August.
That is the plan anyway. With coronavirus cases in Florida and a handful of teams closing their local practice facilities before they travel, this is the case a fragile experiment. A breakout inside the bladder could be conceivable Make the whole thing out.
“I would lie to you if I told you that everyone is comfortable and has no bad feelings about how it will be,” said Jared Dudley, a striker who wasn’t too excited about it, in his quarantined hotel room to be asked for his 35th birthday on Friday. “I think we all know it’s a risk.”
During the almost four-month hiatus in the season, teammates said James remained in great physical shape while standing in the moonlight as one of the team’s social chairs. In group chats, he shared information about which gyms were available. He gave teammates instructions on how they could Use your voices effectively amid the civil unrest that swept the country. But he also kept the mood light and supported the feeling of camaraderie of the team.
“LeBron is a fool,” said Dudley. “Let’s be honest.”
More recently, James has been a constant presence at the Lakers’ practice facility, where players have been running in and out for individual workouts.
“He’s early in the gym, he’s late, and he’s the last one to work – and probably the longest and hardest,” said Green. “He hasn’t changed at all, man.”
Its durability is all the more remarkable since this season was unusual for the N.B.A. – and especially for the Lakers. Green compared it to a “roller coaster ride in a cave”.
Even before the season started James got into a geopolitical storm involving China and the N.B.A. In January, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were under nine people who died in a helicopter crash, a tragedy that devastated the Lakers organization. Less than two months later The season was interrupted because of the corona virus pandemic.
At that time, James had prepared the Lakers for a title run. At 49-14, they had the best record in the Western Conference, and James played some of the most complete basketball of his careerAn average of 25.7 points and a league best of 10.6 support a game.
Now James has gray spots in his quarantine beard. He was pretty bionic during his 17 year career. But he had a significant groin injury last season and no athlete – not even James – can be dominant forever. Despite the peculiarities of the season, he seems determined to take the opportunity in front of him.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel recalled the moment last week when he saw James and Anthony Davis, the team’s all-star striker, for the first time in months. The mere sight of the team’s two pillars in the practice facility was encouraging.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Vogel.
But the Lakers won’t be whole in Disney World. Avery Bradley, the team’s best full-back, has refused to restart due to family reasons. To fill the empty spot on the roster, the Lakers signed last week J. R. Smith, who has his own story with James.
As teammates of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James and Smith made four direct trips to the N.B.A. Final, We help the team to win everything in 2016. Their partnership collapsed in 2018, however, when Smith forgot the result during a critical possession of Game 1 of the final against the Golden State Warriors. in the one of the most memorable moments in the history of the leagueJames stared at Smith in the midfield with his arms outstretched. The Cavaliers were swept and James signed with the Lakers a few weeks later.
Now they have a chance to reset – together again, this time in a bubble, and compete for another title.
Smith said he would bring his keen understanding of The LeBron James Experience – wisdom that he could share with younger teammates in a playoff environment.
“I know Bron can get mad,” said Smith, “and people won’t know how to deal with it.”
Smith most recently appeared in uniform in the 2018/19 season when he played in eleven games for the Cavaliers. His time in Cleveland then ended He accused the team of deliberately losing games. He remained without a contract as a free agent this season, although he had a trial with the Lakers in February. Instead, they decided to sign Dion Waiters.
At a conference call earlier this week, Smith said he had gone through a deep phase of depression when he thought his career was over.
“And it took a few months,” he said. “I’m a big video player and I haven’t even played 2K anymore.”
Regarding his role on the court, Smith said the coaching team had instructed him to “shoot the ball at a high level” and defend it. He is not expected to appear as a playmaker.
“It’s lucky,” he said, “because I was never the type who really tried to start boys.”
Other players said the long break in the season was relaxing on key points. Davis, who was disabled with a shoulder injury most of the season, said he took the chance to rest and become “the best version” of himself. Green said he was running up hills. And striker Kyle Kuzma said he worked on personal growth.
“I read, meditated and painted a lot,” he said.
As for James, teammates say they can feel how little his approach has faltered.
“He is ready for this moment,” said Dudley. “You can say.”