LeBron James believes an absence of locker-room jealousy is the key to his successful partnership with Anthony Davis as the Los Angeles Lakers bear down on a record-equaling 17th NBA championship.
Davis joined the Lakers last year from the New Orleans Pelicans, and has played a crucial role in guiding the team back to the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years after missing the playoffs in 2018-2019.
On Wednesday, Davis excelled with 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists as the Lakers demolished the Miami Heat 116-98 in a game-one blowout.
James, meanwhile, added 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in a dominant performance against his former team to open the best-of-seven series.
The James-Davis double act has provided the Lakers with the team’s most potent axis since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were leading the team to three consecutive NBA titles between 2000 and 2002.
But while Bryant and O’Neal’s relationship was undercut with tension, James says his partnership with Davis couldn’t be more different.
“We’re not jealous of each other,” James said on Thursday. “I think that’s the best thing. In professional sports, you have guys that join forces to become alpha males. That’s what they call them.
“Two guys that have been dominant in a specific sport on their own respective teams, and they get together and they talk about how dominant they can be and they talk about this is going to be this and that.
‘Jealousy creeps in’
“I believe jealousy creeps in a lot. And that is the absolute contrary of what we are. We know who we are. We know what we’re about. We want the best, seriously, every single day, both on and off the floor, for one another.”
Davis, 27, agreed, saying he had never once considered the possibility that locker room envy could destabilize the Lakers locker room.
“The thought never crossed my mind when the trade happened,” Davis said. “I’m not jealous of him. He’s not jealous of me. I think it shows on the court.
“When you’ve got two guys who are very selfless and want to win as bad as both of us want to, the rest of it goes away and just takes care of itself.”
Davis said a free flow of ideas and opinions characterized his partnership with James.
“We hold each other accountable,” Davis said. “When we watch film or even during the course of a game, if I did something wrong, he tells me.
“If he does something wrong, I tell him. I think that’s what makes it work, knowing that we trust one another to make reads, to make calls.
“We’re able to talk to one another. Some guys on some teams are afraid to jump on the star player. Our team, a guy can tell a guy something, and we know it’s coming from a great place and we know it’s coming from a guy who wants to win.
Davis, however, does admit to envying James’s three NBA championship rings.
“I want a ring, and he has three of them,” Davis said. “That would be the one thing for sure that I would be jealous about… Hopefully I don’t have to be envious of that much longer.”