LeBron’s former teammate says star is feared: ‘Nobody wants to be No. 1 and play the Lakers in the 1st round’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A former teammate of LeBron James in Channing Frye alleges that the 39-year-old still strikes fear into the hearts of opposing teams and coaches.

Frye’s comments are interesting considering he recently said the Lakers have “zero” chance of winning a title this year.

“With the Lakers?” Frye said when asked about Los Angeles’ chances of winning it all. “No, that’s a zero. That’s a zero. That is a zero, good try. I love you guys. I mean, put it this way. If we stop right now, who they playing in the play-in? The [Golden State] Warriors? That’s a 50-50 chance right there.”

James and the Lakers are knocking on the door of a top-eight seed in the Western Conference with a 36-31 record, as they trail the Dallas Mavericks — the No. 8 seed in the conference — by two games.

Los Angeles has won two of its past three games, with both of those wins coming against great competition. First, the Lakers earned a one-point victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on March 8 thanks to an offensive masterclass from D’Angelo Russell, who dropped 44 points and nine assists in what was arguably his best game of the 2023-24 regular season so far.

Two days later on March 10, James helped lead the Lakers to an 11-point win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are currently the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference at 45-21. The oldest player in the league finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and nine assists while shooting 10-of-16 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range.

Considering the run that James and the Lakers put together in the 2023 playoffs, it makes sense why teams and coaches might not want to match up against them in the upcoming playoffs. After all, the Lakers managed to reach the Western Conference Finals despite finishing the regular season as the No. 7 seed in the conference.

Before falling to the Denver Nuggets — who went on to win the 2023 NBA title — in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs and Warriors in round two.

The Lakers will try to get six games above the .500 mark on the season when they take on the Warriors at Crypto.com Arena on Saturday night. Golden State is directly behind Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings as the No. 10 seed and owns a record of 5-5 over its past 10 contests.

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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.