Throughout his career in the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has been a dominant force on both ends of the floor. Although he may not be the lockdown defender of old at 35, he’s had some iconic moments defensively during his Hall-of-Fame-caliber career that put him in elite company like his unforgettable chase-down block in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
On Tuesday, the Lakers superstar opened up about the origin of his defensive mindset and the one coach that challenged him to improve on that end of the floor while with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I’d probably give a lot of credit to Mike Brown,” LeBron said. “He came in with a defensive mindset with a defensive strategy to Cleveland when he got the head coaching job. He told me he wanted me to be just as good as I was on the offensive end; he wanted me to be even better on the defensive end, and it started with a lot of communication.
“I wanted to take that next step in my career because I wanted to get better, and I wanted to compete for championships. I started to take that leadership as far as my communication being loud, speaking calls out, getting into the film session a little bit more—diving into that.
“Mike Brown was very high into watching film and breaking down our opponents and breaking down personnel, so give a lot of credit to Mike Brown putting that type of pressure on me, which I loved and became who I am today.”
With the 2019-20 NBA season officially resuming on Thursday in the bubble against the division rival L.A. Clippers, James will be looking ramp it up defensively once again as the Lakers prepare to play eight seeding games before heading into the playoffs.
The three-time NBA champion will be looking to add to his already impressive resume, aiming for a fourth title and first with the purple and gold. He’ll need to be playing at the top of his game defensively along with superstar teammate Anthony Davis, who is in contention of NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
The Lakers are considered to be the favorites to come out of the Western Conference during this NBA restart with a potential showdown with MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks on the horizon in the NBA Finals.