Former two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith says the player he would compare LeBron James is Magic Johnson. James, who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018, is now on the verge of leading his team to their first championship in a decade as the Lakers lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals.
James has always been known for his ability to split the defense and then find an open man. Johnson, who helped the Lakers win five NBA titles, is considered by many as the greatest point guard ever. "The comparison would be Magic, but LeBron is more athletic, so that separates him and differentiates his style.
If Magic had LeBron’s athleticism, he’d still be playing today. That’s the fundamental difference. We’ve never seen someone this athletic hold onto his athleticism for this many years, and he’s still the best athlete on the floor at his age even though he’s surrounded by players that are around 22 years old.
The passing, the scoring, we’ve seen that, but we haven’t seen that coupled with such athleticism for this long. That’s LeBron."
Smith says the Lakers surrounded James with the right weapons
The Lakers surrounded James with great shooters and their offense is one of the toughest offenses to guard in the NBA.
"And what does LeBron need to do for the Lakers to win? He needs his teammates to hit shots. Frank Vogel understands that, too. The Lakers have to put confidence back into KCP, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Caruso, Rondo—they have to be able to consistently hit open shots.
Miami is saying they can’t consistently do that if they zone up and double-team in the right areas. "The Lakers need to put extreme confidence in those players. Coaches can’t always put confidence in their players, but they can always take it away.
As a coach, you need to be careful to not take any confidence away from guys that are missing shots that you would want them to take anyway." Before the season restarted in Orlando, NBA players had a conversation with the league as they wants to raise the awareness on social injustice in the United States.
The league and the players reached an agreement and the season eventually continued and is now set to finish. "It’s interesting. The players have let everyone know they are part of society. That’s the biggest statement I’ve seen," Smith said.