LeBron James is changing the narrative around his defensive effort — one ref at a time.
During the Los Angeles Lakers 112-107 victory over the Thunder on Tuesday night, some courtside audio caught LeBron talking to a ref about his defensive effort, telling him about his renewed focus this season.
“I know you’ve been reading and saying I haven’t been playing defense the last couple of years, but it’s a new year!” James can be heard yelling at the official.
Lakers Defense Elite With LeBron James, Anthony Davis Leading the Way
With James and Anthony Davis leading the way, the Lakers are one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing an NBA-best 101.1 points per game as of Wednesday. The Lakers also haver the best record in the NBA at 12-2.
James’ comments are just part of the overall team-focus on defense, which Anthony Davis harped on after the win.
“We can be better defensively,” Davis told Tania Gaguli of the Los Angeles Times. “We kind of took a hit when Avery [Bradley] went down. We’re kind of trying to find a new identity on defense without our key defensive guy out there, but still been able to win games.”
LeBron James Revs Up DPOY Campaign for Anthony Davis
When it comes to the Lakers defensive effort, Davis has been the centerpiece, notching a career best 3.1 blocks per game so far this season. He’s also adding 1.4 steals, 25.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
James touted the efforts of Davis on the defensive end after Tuesday’s game, revving up the conversation that he deserves some hardware.
“We know how great AD is defensively,” said James, according to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. “He’s right there right now probably as the Defensive Player of the Year if you just look at the numbers and what he’s been able to do.”
When Davis made it clear when he came to the Lakers that one of his goals was to be the best defender in the league.
“I want to be Defensive Player of the Year,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I think if I’m able to do that, I can help this team win. The offensive end will come around, but defensively, I want to hold myself, teammates, including LeBron [James], accountable in order for us to take on the challenge of being the best we can defensively. In doing so, we’ll have a good chance of winning every night. I want to make sure me and LeBron are on the All-Defensive Team. And for me personally, I just want to be the Defensive Player of the Year. If we’re able to hold teams under 100 [points], which is probably unrealistic but it should be our goal, I think we’ll have a shot at winning the title.”