Atlanta Hawks forward marvels over opportunity to train with LeBron James: ‘Wow, I get to work out with LeBron’

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read

Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson spoke out about getting the opportunity to work with Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

Johnson, a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, detailed his experience working out with James to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I was kind of little bit like, ‘Wow, I get to work out with LeBron,’” he said.

Johnson, who played collegiately at Duke University, was actually compared to James by his coach on Atlanta’s G League team. There is certainly a long way to go for Johnson to reach a level anywhere near James,’ but he seems to be getting a shot to see how the four-time champion operates.

The young forward praised the Lakers star and his precision during his training process.

“Before the workout, seeing how he goes about his business,” Johnson said. “Just once he gets the gym, he’s locked in, laser-focused, does his routine and then, as far as drill-wise, (he’s) the best on court. Everything’s precise. Everything’s the right way. Even if he messes up, he messes up and makes a shot, he’s still coming back and doing it the right way.”

James produced at an extremely high level in the 2022-23 season despite being 38 years old. A big reason for that is his preparation and training.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from beyond the arc in the 2022-23 regular season.

“I think as far as he reaches the back end of his career, I’m sure everything has to be much more precise than it was 10 or 12 years ago or whatever,” Johnson said. “So I think he’s understanding, like, it’s later in his career, so everything needs to be even twice as sharp as it once was. Whatever his approach is, I think he’s doing it the right way. For me to be able to see that person in person. It’s good for me to take.”

It’s really a great experience for a young player like Johnson to see what it takes to operate at the level James does to be as great as he is. Plus, the Hawks forward revealed that James gave him pointers and tips to help him with his own game.

“It’s just little stuff that I picked up on,” Johnson said. “He’s giving me pointers on how to do certain moves, how to be more effective with certain moves, little tricks, just kind of when we’re working out. So, just hearing that from him, having that as someone that I can reach out and ask questions to now, you know, it’s cool.”

It’s awesome to see James giving back to the younger generation of players, especially since he has likely inspired many of them since they watched him play in the NBA as they grew up.

Johnson is hoping to build on a strong second season in the NBA where he averaged 5.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.9 minutes per game. It’s likely that his role will expand in the 2023-24 season since the Hawks traded away forward John Collins this offseason.

There’s no doubt that Johnson’s workout with James is something that the young Hawks player will take with him as he goes about the rest of his career. It’ll be interesting to see the two players interact in the 2023-24 season when the Hawks and Lakers face off.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.