LeBron James insists the Los Angeles Lakers are at a much better place this time then they were last year. After winning the 2019/2020 season, the Lakers didn't really have much time to rest as training camp kicked off less than two months following their NBA Finals victory.
The Lakers paid the price because of a short rest as they were struggling with injuries throughout the year and exited the playoffs in the first round. Now, four months removed from a playoff first round loss, the Lakers arrived to training camp fully freshed.
"Just the energy," James said when asked what had changed. "Last year after coming off the bubble it literally took everything away from you. Any little bit of energy that you had, it was completely gone when we left there.
... To come back into the season with the quick start that we had, kind of the life of the party was a little bit, just like, it was just kind of stale. You know, rightfully so. Guys just didn't have an opportunity to get a mental break.
"You could definitely feel the energy shift a lot more in this season the first two practices compared to last."
James giving his best to be the leader he needs to be
"Obviously you can tell I've been yelling the last couple days, just trying to implement everything," James said, his voice clearly hoarse.
"My voice is deteriorating as the minutes go on, but that's a good thing." Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is happy with the example James has been. "He sets a great tone for attentiveness," Vogel said.
"Hanging on every word the coaches are saying and making sure he's understanding it, executing it at the right level. I think that sets a tone for the rest of the guys absorbing what we're trying to get through to them.
It starts there. ... "If there's a detail that needs to be cleaned up, he's very vocal in those situations, too. But I think if his voice is hoarse, it's because of the intensity of today's practice. These guys really, really got after it today.
So early in training camp, to see guys playing that hard and that physical is a great sign with the talent that we have." Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo acknowledged the greatness of James. "It's what greatness is all about," Rondo said.
"Every team that he's played on has been to the top of the top. When a guy like that is setting a tone, everyone else has to follow, lock in and try to do the same."