J.R. Smith Identifies Key Difference He's Seen in LeBron James Since Joining Lakers - Lakers Daily

J.R. Smith Identifies Key Difference He’s Seen in LeBron James Since Joining Lakers

J.R. Smith and LeBron James

Having reunited with LeBron James as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, J.R. Smith has noticed one key difference in his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate.

“I’d say more than anything he’s more patient now,” Smith said of James during a recent Zoom call. “I think when he was younger, he had that more of a shorter fuse with things I would say.

“Now, whether it be a good thing or a bad thing, he has changed his work ethic. I just think he’s more relatable and easier to get along with. Before, he was always so focused on his drive and winning and stuff like that, but I feel like that pressure is kind of off his shoulders, and he can just be him.

“He doesn’t have to orchestrate the offense or the defense or what somebody did wrong. He can let the coaches do their job. I think that a true testament to him growing. I watch interviews and stuff when people say he’s “not coachable” because he knows so much about the game, but he’s probably the most coachable person out there.

“More than anything I think he’s just so much more patient and his delivery and how he goes about the process of the game if he sees something he doesn’t like, of course, he’s going to say something, but I think he gives people more of a chance and opportunity to voice their opinion and do their job.”

The 34-year-old Smith was traded to the Cavaliers in January 2015 and got an up-close look at how James approached the game back in those days.

During that time, James’ intense focus on winning helped lead the Cavs to four consecutive finals appearances and one NBA title.

Smith’s reference to the lack of pressure on James’ shoulders surely refers to the relief James felt when he managed to bring a championship to his hometown of Cleveland.

James was well aware that Cleveland fans were expecting him to lead them to a title, which is why he had little patience for on-court mistakes by his teammates.

While James’ approach may have gotten under the skin of some of his Cavaliers teammates, the fact that he ended up delivering a title in 2016 forever endeared him to Cavaliers fans.

Now wearing a Lakers uniform, James hasn’t lost any of his trademark intensity and is focused on becoming one of the few players in history to win an NBA title with three different organizations. His newfound patience surely hasn’t reduced his determination to win.

Smith is hoping to help James on that front, though the veteran hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2018.

That quest by the Lakers to win the 2019-20 title resumes later this month.