Rich Paul says he’s LeBron’s biggest critic: ‘When I have an issue…I go get in front of him’

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Paul — a longtime agent and friend of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James — claims that he is James’ biggest critic.

“In sports, we’re so used to having the mindset of, ‘Oh, you should do what this other person did because this other person was a star, and this other person did this like this, and so you should do that like that,'” Paul said of James’ approach to his NBA career. “… But imagine if we did that in science. We wouldn’t have a lot of the cures and the tools to heal and do different things that we do just in life. And so I think it’s okay to allow somebody to be who they are. I get it. And I’m not saying that biasedly because I’m LeBron’s biggest critic by the way, you know? When I have an issue, especially on the basketball court, I go get in front of him, and we talk about it.”

James and Paul have been acquainted with each other for some time now, as the two are childhood friends. James hired Paul to be his agent back in 2012.

Paul has been fortunate enough to see one of his clients in James carve out an iconic and successful career in the NBA. James is a four-time champion, 20-time All-Star, four-time MVP and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

James broke the league’s all-time scoring record — formerly held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — back on Feb. 7 of 2023 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and one of James’ former teammates in Shaquille O’Neal said that the forward wants his scoring record to be untouchable for the next 60 to 70 years.

But James’ mind should be occupied on the Lakers’ first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets and not his career accolades at this point in time.

The Lakers avoided elimination by picking up an 11-point win in Game 4 thanks to a dominant two-way performance from the NBA’s oldest player. James totaled 30 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block on 14-of-23 shooting from the floor.

But even though Los Angeles staved off elimination on Saturday, the Lakers’ season is still in dire straits. After all, the iconic franchise still trails the best-of-seven series 1-3, and no team in NBA playoff history has ever won a series after trailing 0-3 at one point.

In order for James’ 21st NBA season to continue, the Lakers need to earn a road win in Monday night’s Game 5. If James and the Lakers can force another game and take this series back to Los Angeles, Game 6 would take place on Thursday at Arena.

Only time will tell if James’ 21st season will end on Monday night, but regardless of the outcome of Game 5, the 39-year-old has had one of the greatest seasons for a player of his age in league history.

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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.