Doc Rivers says LeBron James is more Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan
LOS ANGELES – With just one day remaining until opening night, Doc Rivers, Kawhi Leonard, and the LA Clippers are making their final preparations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Leonard is ‘good to go’ without any minutes limit or restrictions, according to Rivers. However, the team will still be without Paul George and likely Rodney McGruder against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers.
Throughout training camp, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has expressed his desire to make James the exclusive ball-handler this year. The sentiment was more than likely shared by the front office when they re-signed Alex Caruso and brought in Quinn Cook, two guys who can space the floor for James.
Rivers, however, isn’t quick to buy that only James will handle the ball this season.
“Yeah we’ll see about that. I’m not believing it,” Rivers said skeptically.
Whether or not James is the ‘exclusive’ ball-handler remains to be seen, but he’ll be the team’s primary ball-handler at the very least. James says that isn’t going to change the way the Clippers defend James.
“Not at all,” added Rivers. “Is there a team that he’s been on that I know about that he wasn’t the exclusive ball handler? I mean for the most part, he’s always been the ball-handler. He’ll still be that too. There’s no such thing as an exclusive ball-handler in basketball, number one. I can’t imagine none of the other guys ever handling the ball, you know what I mean. I personally think LeBron will get the ball a lot. If I was coaching LeBron, you know what I would do? I’d make sure LeBron had the ball a lot.”
If there’s one coach that has gone up against and knows LeBron more than anyone else, it’s Doc Rivers. The battles James and Rivers had in Cleveland, Boston, and Miami shifted West last year to Los Angeles. This year, however, it’ll likely take on a whole new life as the Clippers and Lakers are expected to be the last two teams standing in the Western Conference come May.
Rivers went a little further in complimenting James, saying he’s more like Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan.
“He’s one of the great passers in the history of the game that people don’t talk about enough,” said Rivers. “He gets compared to Michael and I’ve never agreed with that. I’ve always said Magic. He’s far more Magic than any player that’s ever played the game so I don’t see what he’s doing different than handling the ball.”
Historically, that’s probably an accurate statement. LeBron James has been known for his court vision and his ability to get teammates open looks whenever he wants. He’s done all that while climbing to fourth on the NBA’s All-Time scoring list entering the 2019-20 season.
Rivers, Leonard, and the Clippers will host James and the Lakers on Tuesday night at 7:30PM PST on TNT.