Naturally, on Friday night in Las Vegas, LeBron James didn't play basketball yet owned the room, while Russell Westbrook-related drama hovered over a Los Angeles Lakers game.

The Lakers, coached by Jordan Ott, were blown out 104-84 by the Phoenix Suns in their NBA 2K23 Las Vegas Summer League debut. Every eyeball inside the Thomas & Mack Center, however, was fixated on LeBron — and who entered his personal space.

Summer League is lax. There's a dense convergence of NBA folks in small spaces, such as UNLV's intimate arena. Hordes of current and former players, agents, coaches, media members, and more bump into each other all over the place. This certainly applies to LeBron, who was on hand to support the young Lakers. Throughout the roughly 90 minutes he chilled courtside, a constant stream of prominent league figures enjoyed momentary facetime with The King.

One person who did not share a moment with James? The second-most famous person in the room … and his teammate, Russell Westbrook.

For context, here is a comprehensive list of everyone who came into contact with LeBron during the three quarters he sat baseline (not counting media members and a few people I didn't recognize).

Scotty Pippen Jr.

It wasn't exactly small talk, but LeBron joined fellow Lakers in helping up the sparkplug rookie guard (and Sierra Canyon alum) after a tough and-1 finish. Afterward, Pippen Jr. — the only Lakers to play well — called the moment “cool” but joked that LeBron “kind of threw me up a little too high.”

Baron Davis, Jerry Stackhouse, James Jones

In the second half, Baron Davis moseyed over to introduce his son to LeBron.

Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse was in the house to cheer on Pippen Jr., who led the Commodores in scoring in 2021-22. He shared a word with James, his former Miami Heat teammate.

Jones, the Phoenix Suns general manager, has been tight with LeBron since their tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers (then the Miami Heat).

Gary Payton II

The NBA champion and Portland Trail Blazers guard eventually got a word in with the four-time MVP.

Leon Rose

The New York Knicks president formerly repped LeBron and mentored Rich Paul at CAA. Rose shared a long interaction with ‘Bron.

Rich Paul, Randy Mims, Damon Jones

LeBron sat with Lakers executive administrator (and his old friend) Randy Mims and his ex-Cavs teammate (and murder victim) Damon Jones. Paul later joined them.

David Fizdale

Fizdale, now working in the Utah Jazz front office, is a two-time assistant coach of James. He caught up with LeBron pre-game.

Kurt Rambis

The Lakers' senior basketball advisor, whose personal relationship with LeBron is rarely discussed, shared a lengthy hug and embrace with the organization's best player before tip-off.

Talen Horton-Tucker, Thomas Bryant, Wenyen Gabriel, Juan Toscano-Andesron

A handful of Lakers in the building dapped it up with their teammate. THT sat with LeBron and the Klutch guys for a while.

Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

The most notable LeBron-centric moment was when vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and newly-minted head coach Darvin Ham…hammed it up with the four-time MVP after the first quarter (at one point, Pelinka seemed to deliver an extended, covert message into LeBron's ear).

Ham and LeBron's relationship is strong, but the coach had not been seen with LeBron since being hired. During his halftime media scrum, Ham said he's been in constant contact with the Lakers stars but is yet to bring them together.

“A.D. has a newborn on the way – these guys have busy schedules,” Ham said. “Russ is doing his fashion thing. LeBron has a zillion things going on. We’ve been lock-and-step in communication. But it’s hard when guys have business outside of basketball. But they do a good job of staying connected in terms of whenever I need them.”

Pelinka and LeBron rarely, if ever, interact during Lakers' home games. Their relationship bordered on icy after the trade deadline. Once again, LeBron and the front office may not be aligned on who to trade for and the value of distant first-round picks. LeBron is eligible to sign a two-year extension on Aug. 4.

Not Russell Westbrook

The nine-time All-Star and the Lakers' highest-paid player — whom LeBron might be working to trade and who took shots at LeBron after the season — sat by the Lakers bench, about 94 feet away from LeBron. It was a stark difference from last summer.

Westbrook did lead the Lakers huddle during a few timeouts, which the young guys said they appreciated.

(Pelinka did, FWIW, dap up Russ.)

“I mean, you’re all humans, so you see or hear your name anywhere, you’re going to get curious,” Ham said about the swarming trade buzz. “But at the end of the day, like I told those guys, we love everyone on our roster. And until you’re not on our roster, you’re ours and we’re going to try to get better with the group that we have. That’s just the bottom line of it. I don’t know a player that’s come through this league in my 26 years that hasn’t had their name part of a trade rumor a time or two.”


Westbrook bounced at halftime while LeBron dipped through the opposite tunnel before the fourth quarter. You can draw your own conclusions.