LeBron James is more than halfway through his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
During his career, James has won three championships total with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that drafted him and he returned to and the Miami Heat.
After leaving Cleveland for the second time, James took his talents to Hollywood where he’s chasing a playoff spot with a young Lakers squad.
One former players is pulling for James: retired NBA player, Charles Oakley.
A native of Cleveland, Oakley spoke glowingly of how James handled the pressure of winning a championship in 2016 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“When LeBron came back before, it felt great to see him give the city some love, something to cheer about,” Oakley told me.
“They were mad when he left. I wasn’t, he was there for six, seven years. You didn’t improve the team, what do you want him to do? You kept him for five years when he signed for three. What did you expect him to do? The most important thing is he never asked to be traded and he wasn’t under contract. So anytime he went somewhere, he was courageous.”
Oakley has known James since his high school standout days at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. “When you look at him, he’s the same size he was back then,” Oakley told me of James.
“He didn’t grow too much. We were in Chicago and you know we were, he wanted to play but he was too young but he was ready for the game. When he saw all the other stars in the gym while he was still in high school, it didn’t phase him.”
The Los Angeles Lakers do not want to compete with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Playoffs, particularly in earlier rounds.
“We’re trying to get a seventh seed,” a high ranking Lakers staffer told me last week. “We’ll be healthy in the second half.”
The Lakers have struggled at times during the first half of season mainly because LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball have all missed significant time due to injuries.
The Lakers have noticeably slipped down in the Western Conference standings since James got hurt on Christmas Day.