LeBron James is highly motivated as we approach the NBA Playoffs in Orlando. On Monday night, he and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 116-108, clinching the top seed in the Western Conference with the win.
The Lakers are now 51-15 on the year, a stark turnaround from last year, a season derailed with the first major injury of LeBron James’ NBA career. The team has broken a streak of six losing seasons. This will also be the first time in 10 years that the Lakers are the top seed in the West.
The last time that it happened, 2010, the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers team went on to win the team’s most recent NBA title. The team knocked off the Boston Celtics in seven games, with Bryant taking home NBA Finals MVP honors. The rest of the season has been dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant, so it is appropriate that James is using that 10-year gap between top seeds as motivation.
“Since 2010, right?” James asked the Los Angeles Times after Monday’s game. “They said I couldn’t do it… I’ll enjoy this one. They said I can’t do it.”
Clinching the top seed in the western conference means a lot to LeBron James. “It feels damn good to be the number one seed in the West,” he told me last night. “…They said I couldn’t do it.” https://t.co/GQnspALPrx
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 4, 2020
LeBron didn’t try and force the issue last night, deferring to superstar teammate Anthony Davis, who was on fire. Davis racked up 42 points and 12 rebounds, dropping 24 in just the first half.
James had 22 points of his own on just 16 shots, with nine assists and eight rebounds in 35 minutes of action.
With the No. 1 seed wrapped up, the Los Angeles Lakers can afford to figure how how best to prepare for the upcoming playoffs. The team is back in action on Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 6:30 p.m. ET.