LeBron James Still Reigns as the N.B.A. Returns


As for Antetokounmpo, the odd atmosphere became apparent to him when he went to shoot free throws in the first quarter.

“It was just quiet,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you play basketball, try to make the right play. Just listen to your coach. So for me personally, I tried to lock in.”

Antetokounmpo also said that he felt out of shape, adding that he hoped to spend the next couple of weeks ratcheting up his fitness. All he did against the Spurs was score 22 points in 21 minutes while shooting 9 of 13 from the field. Imagine the havoc once he has his legs under him.

The Lakers, too, are dealing with some absences. Avery Bradley, their top perimeter defender, opted out of participating in the restart, citing family reasons. Rajon Rondo is expected to miss several weeks after fracturing his right thumb shortly after the team arrived in Orlando, and Alex Caruso sat out Thursday’s scrimmage with a back injury

It is worth noting that all three of those players are guards. James often has the ball in his hands regardless of his supporting cast, but it is a safe assumption that he will be his team’s primary facilitator throughout its stay at Disney. One scrimmage is a small sample, but he was the driving force on Thursday — and it worked out well, per usual.

“You’ve got to create your own energy here,” James said.

At the same time, James appears determined to continue speaking about issues that are important to him. After Thursday’s game, he prefaced his news conference by saying he wanted to “shed light on justice” for Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker in Louisville, Ky., who was shot and killed by the police on March 13.

For more than 10 minutes, James fielded additional questions about social justice causes and challenges facing Black people across the country. At one point, he objected to the idea that Black Lives Matter was a movement with some sort of resolution in the near or distant future.





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