Richard Jefferson spent two seasons as a key reserve for the Cleveland Cavaliers, from 2015-17, and in that time became an NBA veteran player LeBron James learned to trust. And, apparently, Jefferson also learned how to make James laugh.
On Friday, after another bizarre Lakers win in which they amassed a bizarre early deficit (this time it was a 22-2 Grizzlies lead right out of the gate), Jefferson took on the duty of interviewing James during the ESPN broadcast, for which Jefferson had been the color analyst.
But Jefferson was not even able to get out a question before James started cracking up laughing, even at the mere mention of his name.
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When James, who had just scored 28 points with nine rebounds and eight assists, finally was posed a question by Jefferson, the question was: “You’ve been missing quite a few dunks lately, is everything OK?”
That caused James to laugh even more and recall the nickname he gave to himself last year, “Washed King.”
“I don’t know, R.J., I really don’t know, man,” James said. “I don’t know if everything is OK, man. I think the Washed King is really starting to catch up with me.”
LeBron James Has 3 Missed Dunks on the Season
Since Jefferson brought it up, here is the missed dunk James had on Friday, which was not technically a missed dunk because he was fouled on the play by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.
James has missed three dunks so far this season on 32 attempts, a fairly high rate by his standards. He missed three on 107 attempts all of last season and, in 2018-19, he missed four in 89 attempts.
He did have a memorable miss against the Bulls in January, in which he fumbled the ball as he went up, then tried to claim Zach LaVine of Chicago pushed him. It was a good face-saving attempt by James.
There was also a wide-open dunk he missed against the Spurs with just under a minute to go back on New Year’s Day. That one was notable because of the body flip James did after the miss.
At 36, you’re allowed to miss the occasional dunk, especially when you’re averaging 25.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists.
LeBron Addresses Lakers’ Miserable First-Quarter Starts
Now, eventually, James did settle down enough to finish a coherent interview with Jefferson, who asked about the particularly bad starts the Lakers have gotten off to in recent weeks. In the Lakers’ last five games, which have all been wins, they trailed after the first quarter. In the last two games, against the Thunder and the Grizzlies, they trailed by scores of 37-23 and 31-16.
The Lakers have had an offensive rating of 93.0 points per 100 possessions in those games, with a defensive rating of 125.0 points per 100 possessions. The net rating of minus-32.0 is last in the NBA over that span, according to NBA stats.
“We gotta figure that out,” James said. “In all seriousness, we keep getting down in the first quarter, man, it do take us a little while to get going. But we can’t do that against no team, especially the good teams, and we’re going to be playing against a lot of good teams coming up. So getting down like that on our home floor, especially like that, 22-2 , it’s not a good ingredient for a championship team, but we found a way to get it done.”