Nuggets’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Has Strong Words for Lakers’ LeBron James

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and LeBron James

Getty Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and LeBron James

After the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on May 16, Nuggets shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope told Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports that Lakers star small forward LeBron James has his “spark” back.

Back in October when the Lakers were one of the worst teams in the NBA, Caldwell-Pope told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that he didn’t see a “spark” in James’ game since the purple and gold were so putrid. However, the Nuggets swingman has seen a change in the four-time MVP ever since the trade deadline.

“He’s gotten it back,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I feel like it happened after the trade deadline. Just seeing them guys play, I watched pretty much every game. He’s just relentless. Just seeing him continuing to do what he’s doing at his age and the years that he’s been in the league, it’s truly amazing.”

The Lakers registered the best record in the Western Conference after the February trade deadline. James, who suffered a torn tendon in his right foot on February 26 versus the Dallas Mavericks, opted against season-ending surgery and only missed 13 games. The four-time Finals MVP played in the final eight games of the season and averaged 25.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists.

The LakeShow went 6-2 after James came back from his foot injury and defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 7-8 play-in game to secure the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Behind James and Anthony Davis, Los Angeles upset the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the postseason and took out the Golden State Warriors in the second round to reach the conference finals.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on LeBron James & Anthony Davis: ‘They’re My Brothers’

James and Davis greeted Caldwell-Pope at Ball Arena after Game 1 ended following the Nuggets’ postgame session with media members. KCP won the 2020 championship with James and Davis on the Lakers, so the three guys are “brothers.”

“They’re my brothers, man,” Caldwell-Pope said. “At the end of the day, we’re brothers off this court. But right now, on the court, in this series we’ll save that brotherly stuff until after the series.”

Ironically, the Lakers beat the Nuggets in the 2020 Western Conference Finals at the Walt Disney World bubble in five games. Caldwell-Pope, who is now on the other side of the Los Angeles-Denver rivalry, thinks the 2020 Lakers are better than the 2023 squad.

“Ooooh, I’m going with us,” Caldwell-Pope said. “For sure.”

Nikola Jokic Praises Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Nuggets superstar big man Nikola Jokic, who had a triple-double in Game 1, loves playing with Caldwell-Pope, who had 21 points in the Game 1 victory.

“KCP is a champion,” Jokic said. “He’s a winner. He knows what to do. He’s a professional. He’s vocal. He’s tough. So he knows what is his role and he’s doing it the best in the world.”

Caldwell-Pope is averaging 11.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in the 2023 playoffs while shooting 48.5% from the field, 38.9% from beyond the arc and 88.9% from the free-throw line. The 30-year-old Georgia native is three wins away from reaching his second NBA Finals.

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