Nothing better than a little friendly trash talk between old teammates, right?
During the first quarter of Thursday night’s game between the Lakers and Nets, DeAndre Jordan was caught camping in the lane, so Brooklyn got hit with a defensive three-second violation. That gave Los Angeles the opportunity to choose a shooter for a free throw attempt, but there really wasn’t much deliberation. LeBron James walked directly to the charity stripe, no questions asked.
James, shooting just 70.4 percent from the line this season, clanked one off the rim, much to the delight of Kyrie Irving. The Nets guard, who played alongside James in Cleveland from 2014 to 2017, couldn’t resist the chance to troll James and the Lakers.
Floor microphones from the TNT broadcast picked up Irving saying, “That’s your best free throw shooter?”
It was a playful jab from Irving, but one with a bit of truth. At the time of the violation, the Lakers’ lineup featured James, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. In terms of free throw shooting, Horton-Tucker (83.9 percent), Caruso (83.3 percent) and Harrell (73.8 percent) have been more reliable than James in 2020-21 with only Kuzma (61.5 percent) below the four-time MVP.
This is far from the first time James has ignored the numbers, though. Back in 2017, Tom Haberstroh wrote a story for ESPN chronicling James’ struggles at the line, and he noted that James would often take technical free throws despite better options being on the floor.
But this is alpha dog territory, and James has flexed his superstar status in moments like this before. Consider the 2010-11 Heat, which many consider the most alpha dog team ever. That season James, a career 74 percent free throw shooter at the time, shot 15 T’s, while Dwyane Wade (77 percent) took one and Chris Bosh (80 percent) took zero. James made just 10 of the 15.
It turns out that one miss didn’t matter much, as the Nets brushed off a 32-point effort from James and cruised to a 109-98 victory.
Hey, at least James didn’t go full air-ball this time.