A major inflection point in the Los Angeles Lakers’ disastrous 2018-19 campaign came when the team tried to make a move for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Following Davis’ public trade request, the Lakers seemingly put every non-LeBron James player in their locker room on the table, which led to one of the most public trade negotiations you’ll ever see.
Rumors of discord, particularly among younger players, popped up soon after, especially in the direction of James. The thought was that James was working to get them moved to New Orleans so Davis, with whom he shares an agent, could end up in Los Angeles. Still, that had only been rumored, until a recent piece by Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report confirmed it was real.
Bucher spoke to Rajon Rondo, the veteran point guard who spent all of this season with the Lakers. In the piece, Rondo explained exactly how the public courting of Davis had such a negative impact on the group’s younger players.
“Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favorite player growing up,” Rondo told Bucher. “Everyone had the shoes, his jersey. You’re the biggest fan in the world. It’s like you’re playing with MJ, and then you get there, and it’s like your mom and dad, or the person that you looked up to and idolized, doesn’t want you. And then to have that sitting in your gut, not knowing. Guys aren’t at the age where they can have a man-to-man conversation versus texting you. Everybody wants to text you: ‘How you doing? We cool?’ People don’t understand how to have a real conversation and talk out problems.”
It’s a harsh way to view James’ role in the Davis madness, but Rondo has never been one to bite his tongue and he has a reputation for having the backs of younger players. At the very least, this is our latest reminder that the book that eventually comes out about this season in Tinseltown is going to be a must-read.