ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called L.A. Lakers star LeBron James a liar for saying that he only cares about the team’s success and not personal accolades.
James went on a rant last year about how he was “pissed off” to lose the 2020 MVP vote to Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo. This is the second year in a row that James lost to Antetokounmpo and is especially grating to James because he beat Antetokounmpo’s team for the NBA championship.
“It pissed me off,” James told The Athletic last year of not winning the nod for MVP. “That’s my true answer. It pissed me off because out of 101 votes, I got 16 first-place votes. That’s what pissed me off more than anything.”
Still, at the same time, James since doubled back and insisted that he really only cares about the success of his team and not gaining personal victories.
After the Lakers defeated the Bucks 113-106 on Thursday, James insisted that he wasn’t that concerned that the Bucks’ Antetokounmpo beat him out for MVP.
“I think all you guys know me, it’s never been about individual, it’s all about the team’s success. That’s all that matters,” James told ESPN. “I can care less about that. I just try to play well and help our team win versus any opponent, and that’s what it’s all about.”
But James’ newest comments about his feelings over the MVP slight seem to have brought Stephen A. Smith to scoff at James sudden false modesty.
“I think that LeBron stood in front of the cameras last night and lied to the American public, and anybody else who was listening,” Smith said on the Jan. 22 episode of ESPN’s First Take. “But I’m not knocking him for it. I think that, listen, LeBron wouldn’t be as great as he is if all he thought about was the outcome for the team. Especially in the sport of basketball, there is some individual pride that seeps into the equation, where you put dude’s on notice, ‘This is who the hell I am. Don’t forget.’”
“When LeBron sits up there and goes in for a layup and gets an and-1 and flexes his muscle, is that about the team?” the ESPN talker continued. “When he sits up there and dunks on somebody and screams at the crowd, is that about the team? … Nobody’s accusing him of caring about his individual accolades more than the team. No, he’s proven that he’s unselfish on that level.”
James’ claim that he is all about the team was just a “damn lie,” Smith exclaimed.
“There’s no way you can be as great as him, and you never have that intestinal fortitude and that individual pride to put your greatness on display,” Smith said, “you don’t spend a-million-and-a-half dollars on your physique, your body, your conditioning, and everything that comes with it to be as great as you can be just for the team to win a championship,” he said. “No, you want to be the reason or a primary reason why you win that championship.”
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