LeBron says it ‘bothers the f–k out of me’ that youngsters have 1-on-1 mentality: ‘Some guys don’t wanna learn’

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is seemingly very against the one-on-one mentality a lot of younger players tend to have nowadays.

“Everyone now has a narrative of this thing called, ‘I have a bag,’ or ‘He doesn’t have a bag,'” James said. “It bothers the f–k out of me. Everyone thinks just because you get a favorable matchup that it means it’s one-on-one time. ‘Let’s play ones,’ that’s all you hear the kids talk about now. …

“What the f–k is this? This is not [Michael] Jordan vs. [Larry] Bird Nintendo. It’s five-on-five, and yes, if you have an opportunity to have a favorable matchup and you can beat your man, but realize something. Most great teams are going to send help, and can you make the right reads? Can you instill confidence in your teammates to when you’ve scored twice in that favorable matchup, do you know that the double is coming? … Some guys don’t wanna learn and won’t learn because they just wanna play ones.”

While James takes matters into his own hands from a scoring standpoint at times, his assist numbers this season indicate that he is an unselfish player. The 39-year-old — who is the oldest player in the NBA — is averaging 8.1 assists per game across 62 games played with the Lakers in the 2023-24 regular season.

He has been one of the better passers in the NBA ever since he joined the league, as he averaged 5.9 assists per game as a rookie in the 2003-04 regular season and averages 7.4 per game for his career.

Plus, James dished out 10 assists compared to three turnovers in his most recent game with Los Angeles against the Indiana Pacers on March 24. He also logged 26 points, five rebounds, one steal and one block in a game the Lakers won by five points after scoring 150 as a team.

James’ passing display against the Pacers marked the sixth time in his last seven games played that he has managed to dish out at least nine assists. In the month of March, he is averaging a whopping 9.2 assists per game while turning the ball over 3.9 times per contest.

The Lakers are riding a four-game winning streak, tied with the Denver Nuggets for the third-longest active winning streak of any team in the Western Conference. In Los Angeles’ most recent win, the team managed to take down the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday without James in the lineup.

Anthony Davis put together a monster performance in the overtime win, as he totaled 34 points, 23 rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks on 12-of-31 shooting from the field and 3-of-8 from 3-point range. Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell also scored 29 points apiece for the Lakers.

The Lakers can extend their winning streak to five games with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies — who sit as the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference with a record of 24-48 — on Wednesday night.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.