LeBron James’ first United Center appearance came on March 31, 2003 in the EA Sports Roundball Classic, a high school All-Star game.
“My (St. Vincent-St. Mary) head coach Dru Joyce was the head coach of the team and all my high school guys were here in attendance,” James said Tuesday morning following Lakers shootaround. “Just playing here and having the love and appreciation for what Michael (Jordan) did in this building and what he did along his career, it just felt like a surreal moment for myself.”
Tuesday night against the Bulls marks James’ 40th NBA appearance, counting regular season and playoffs. James’ Heat and Cavaliers teams waged some memorable battles with the Bulls over the years, but James said he didn’t have a most memorable game from those rivalries.
For now, James is focused on beating the Bulls---he said transition defense is critical against a “young and athletic” team---and continuing to form chemistry with local product Anthony Davis. The former Perspectives Charter High star is in his first season with the Lakers.
“I think it’s getting better and better as the days go on,” James said. “It’s just like with any relationship, the relationship on the court and relationship with someone off the floor, the more and more time you spend together, if you guys have the same goals in mind, the same drive, it organically happens. We’re the captains and leaders of the team along with Rajon (Rondo) and some other guys as well. It starts with us.”
As Davis fielded a similar question about what it’s like to play with James, the 17-year veteran jokingly kept saying “horrible, horrible” as he sat nearby. Davis smiled.
“It’s just fun,” Davis said. “Obviously, it’s early and we realize we’re a long way from what we can be. But we’re constantly learning each other and trying to get better each game and practice. We’re talking to figure out how we can become better at both ends. He has a great basketball mind. So I’m trying to take everything I can from him and put it to use on the floor.”
Davis said it’s always special to play in his hometown arena, where he once rooted for Derrick Rose.
“The first couple years I didn’t get a chance to play here because of injury,” Davis said of his time with the Pelicans. “The past couple years, I’ve been able to play in front of friends and family. It’s always fun. The times I here, I try to enjoy it. Always wanted to be able to play here. I had a chance at the McDonald’s (high school) All-American game of course. But to play here in an NBA uniform and obviously playing for the Lakers is something huge for me. I’m going to enjoy it now.”
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