NBA

LeBron James not too old to put his body on the line

By Sports Desk December 08, 2023

LeBron James quipped he was not too old to put his body on the line for the $500,000 per player cash prize that goes to the NBA's in-season tournament winners.

James' comment came after he played a starring role in the Los Angeles Lakers' 133-89 demolition of the New Orleans Pelicans in Thursday's semi-final.

Just over three weeks away from his 39th birthday, James finished with 30 points, eight assists and five rebounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

He also got in the way of a Zion Williamson charge in the first quarter. Asked if he was too old to be risking a serious injury, James smiled: "Listen man, not for that 500, I ain't."

Each player on the winning side of the inaugural final, in which the Lakers will take on the Indiana Pacers, will receive a $500,000 bonus.

James was weighing up retirement after last season, but is thrilled to still be on the court.

"If you decide to retire, or whatever the case may be, you're not a part of it anymore, so it wouldn't be me leaving it on the table because I would have never had the table set," James told ESPN.

"But I'm happy that I'm here; this is a pretty cool moment, and let's see if we can capitalise on it. It's been good. It's been dope.

"We've got to finish our breakfast on Saturday. That's the most important thing."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham, meanwhile, believes the NBA's in-season tournament has injected fresh life into the early stages of the season.

"This time of the year you tend to, you don't want to admit it, but teams tend to sleepwalk through some of these games," Ham said.

"So for the league to infuse this tournament at this point and time of the year, I thought it was brilliant.

"Now being here in Vegas, it's definitely a really thick electricity that's happening that's reverberating all the way through the arena, through the teams. Everybody is excited to try to give it their best shot.

"We are just trying to build a rhythm and be the best team we can be and put our best foot forward on a daily basis. The tournament just happens to align with what we got going on in general."

It was another tough game for Pelicans talisman Williamson, who finished with only 13 points.

"I got to be better," Williamson said. "I got to be more aggressive in finding my shot. I got to do more things to get my team going. I think I was too laid back tonight."

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    The Golden State Warriors guard joins three-time Olympic champion Kevin Durant and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer LeBron James in an experienced squad named by national team managing director Grant Hill.

    Durant, 35, helped Team USA to gold at each of the last three Olympics, while Los Angeles Lakers forward James, 39, will make his first appearance since London 2012, having also won gold in Beijing in 2008 and bronze in Athens in 2004.

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    Los Angeles Lakers centre Anthony Davis will, like James, make his first Olympic appearance since London 2012.

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    The United States have won gold at each of the last four Olympics and 16 in all, but finished a disappointing fourth at last year’s World Cup.

    Curry’s Golden State coach Steve Kerr will lead the team in Paris.

    The United States are due to start a training camp in Las Vegas on July 6 before a series of exhibition games that includes tilts against South Sudan and Germany on July 20 and 22 in London. Their opening game in Paris will be against Serbia on July 28.

  • Lakers must play 'mistake-free basketball' against Nuggets, warns James Lakers must play 'mistake-free basketball' against Nuggets, warns James

    LeBron James has warned the Los Angeles Lakers must play "mistake-free basketball" if they are to overcome the Denver Nuggets.

    The Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 on Tuesday, meaning they progress to the first round of the playoffs.

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    "It's the defending champion," James said.

    "They know what it takes. They know how to win. They've been extremely dominant on their home floor over the last few years.

    "They've got an MVP on their team. They've got a closer on their team. They've got high-level players, high-IQ players, and they've got a hell of a coach.

    "So, we have to play mistake-free basketball. Make it tough on them. They're going to try to make it tough on us, obviously.

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    It was put to Lakers coach Darvin Ham that there had been reports the Lakers might throw their game against the Pelicans in order to go up against either the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors in the other play-in game.

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    "There was a report of what?" an incredulous Ham said. "Insane asylum sources say?"

    The Lakers reached the Conference Finals last year, and Anthony Davis is confident Los Angeles are coming into their best form at the opportune moment.

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    D'Aaron Fox said the Sacramento Kings knew exactly was on the line when they went up against the Golden State Warriors.

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