LeBron James becomes MVP of the season tournament; “No Jealousy” by Anthony Davis


LAS VEGAS — Lebron James sat barely damp at the podium following a postgame champagne celebration after winning MVP of the NBA’s inaugural regular-season tournament on Saturday. He placed the trophy on his left side. To his right sat the person who made the hardware possible and someone who, quite frankly, outplayed him in Saturday’s 123-109 championship victory Indiana Pacers.

Despite 41 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks from Anthony Davis – Indiana’s force Myles Turner commit a foul while defending Los Angeles Lakers The big man’s relentless attacks on the paint – James and Davis had no problem with the pecking order.

“I know who I am, he knows who he is,” James told ESPN when asked about his partnership with Davis, which is now in its fifth season – longer than his partnership with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami or with Kyrie Irving And Kevin Love in Cleveland. “So there is no friction. We don’t try to compete with each other on the court or in our lifestyle. He knows who he is, I know who I am.”

“The only thing we try to do is hold each other accountable when we go to work and try to do the best we can for each other, and when one isn’t doing well, we try to be ourselves to encourage each other. That doesn’t exist.” Jealousy. There is not a bone of jealousy in our body. We are never jealous of each other. Never.”

While James continues to push the boundaries of what a player can do in his 21st season – with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in the decisive game – it hasn’t come at the expense of Davis’ development.

If anything, James has done his best to support Davis, calling the 30-year-old the “face of the franchise” to ESPN at the start of training camp and continuing to put the 12-year veteran in position to succeed.

Davis said that carried over to Las Vegas, where James and the Lakers served Davis early and often – he shot 6-for-10 in the first quarter, just the second time this season he attempted 10 or more shots in a quarter – – and went to him all night long.

“He’ll say things like, ‘Let’s get AD going.’ Or, ‘Run this for AD,'” Davis said. “He does a good job making sure I get the opportunity to take over ballgames like tonight. So he stood by me through the ups and downs and the indifference. He’s always been a guy I can count on, who I can ask for advice, or he just knows.

“He just knows me. … I just had that look tonight and he said, ‘I’ll follow your example.’ And he was able to do that, and the team was able to allow me to be that guy and just take advantage of it.”

Lakers backup center Christian Woodwho signed a veteran’s minimum contract with LA in part because of Davis’ recruiting efforts, said Davis had the chance.

“I think AD, he was at Level 1 and took it to Level 3,” Wood told ESPN. “He told me before the game, ‘This is Game 7 for me, I’m going to show you what a Game 7 looks like.’ I’ve never been in one. I said, ‘Okay, show me.’ And he went out there and got 40 and 20. That’s unbelievable.”

The win was the Lakers’ 12th in their last 16 games and moved them to No. 5 in the Western Conference standings.

The Lakers did not shy away from their motivation to win the tournament over and above the competition. The $500,000 cash prize for each player on the winning team was something James prioritized, recognizing that it represented an opportunity far removed from his tough upbringing in Akron, Ohio.

“We played to show off,” James told ESPN about his childhood games. “Growing up, I didn’t have any money to play for money.”

James said he woke up Saturday morning determined to finish the job against the Pacers.

“I’ll try,” he said. “Yes why not? Why not? A game? Me and a game, I do it. In any case.”

It was another milestone for James and Davis, who won a title together in their first season together in 2020 and have now secured their first tournament title of the season.

Davis said he knows his beefed-up resume won’t make him impervious to future criticism. He attracts attention no matter what he does.

James’ trust in him and his team’s continued belief in him have allowed him to develop a thicker skin.

“The ‘I’m not giving anything away?’ Yes, I did,” Davis told ESPN when asked about his outlook. “And I don’t [care]. As long as my team is winning and I’m in the locker room with my boys, that’s all I care about. I don’t care about other people’s opinions. I really mean that. I do not care.”

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