Lakers star LeBron James was surprised when he first heard that the NBA wanted to start the 2020/21 season before Christmas instead of sometime in the new year, he told reporters on Monday. As Mark Medina of USA Today writes, James had to cancel a Christmas vacation that he had planned to take with his family.
“‘Oh, s–t,'” James said when asked to describe his reaction to the news of the December 22 start date. “I’m just being completely honest. I wasn’t expecting that.”
The quick turnaround means that James will get less time to rest than just about any other player in the NBA, since his Lakers played all the way up until October 11, when they beat Miami in Game 6 of the 2020 Finals. James said that he’s fully healthy, but admitted he was “super sore” after the Lakers’ first practice and said he’ll have to be careful about ramping up his activity for the coming season.
“We’re going to be as smart as we can be with making sure my body and making sure I’m ready to be available,” James said. “Obviously every game matters. But we’re competing for something that is high.”
In his media session on Monday and in a an appearance on the Road Trippin’ podcast with former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, James addressed several more topics of interest. With the help of stories from Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Bill Oram of The Athletic, here are some of the most noteworthy quotes from LeBron:
On entering the 2020/21 season as defending champions:
“I guess the bull’s-eye just becomes even greater, if that’s even possible. For me personally, the bull’s-eye has always been on my back … since I entered the league. You add in the Laker name on top of that, the Lakers’ franchise, the bull’s-eye has been on this franchise for a long time as well.”
On how his new contract extension lines up his future with that of his son, Bronny James:
“The best thing about it is the year I’ll be a free agent will be the same year my oldest son graduates high school. So I’ll have some options to see, for me personally, what I want to do forward, being around my family, being around my son more or continue to play this game I love with great health and great spirits. We’ll see.”
“Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,’ I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.’
“Because … I played with Kyrie for three seasons. The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor.
“And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”