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Lakers’ LeBron James opens up about teammates asking him to step up defensively

LeBron James, Lakers, Clippers, Kawhi Leonard

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is a breed of athlete that we simply have never seen before. He’s in his 17th year in the NBA and is still playing at an MVP-caliber level while going toe-to-toe with the league’s elite players like Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard.

With the regular season now in its final stretch, the Lakers are imposing their will and making a case to be the best team in the league. The distinction as the league’s best team has been lost on LeBron and company this season with the Bucks and Clippers getting the best of them a total of three times prior to this weekend. Now, after two eye-opening games at the Staples Center, the narrative is starting to shift for the team and their undisputed leader.

“I want to just do whatever it takes for our team to win,” LeBron said of guarding Antetokounmpo, Leonard, and Paul George. “And if my teammates need me to take the challenge defensively, offensively, whatever. I’ll take it. My teammates asked me to do it this weekend, and the rest is history.”

LeBron took it upon himself to step up his game on the defensive end of the basketball floor this weekend after his teammates asked him for some help. Although he didn’t shut down Leonard, George, or Antetokounmpo completely, the three-time NBA champion showed he can still play defense with the best of them when needed.

After Sunday’s win over the Clippers, the Lakers superstar opened up about being able to continue his high level of play at 35 years old. James attributed his success to preparation.

“I prepare myself,” LeBron said. “Both my body, my mind, and to endure anything even at this stage in my career. I know what it takes for me to be prepared mentally and physically to go out and perform at a high level. It’s my responsibility to put this team in a position to be successful. They look at me as a leader, and it’s my job to not only on the floor to get guys opportunities, get them great looks, but inspire them as well and show them I’m not slowing down even at this stage in my career.

“It’s just a blessing. It’s a blessing to be doing what I am doing at this juncture of my career.”

With LeBron and the Lakers firing on all cylinders, Los Angeles is as scary an opponent as any team in the league and they’re hitting their stride at the right time. Frank Vogel’s squad has 20 games left on their regular-season schedule, and the top spot in the West all but locked up.

Although there’s still a fair amount of basketball left to be played, the Lakers are sending a message to the rest of the league that they’ll be as tough to face in the postseason as any other elite team.