LeBron James has a reputation for being able to elevate the play of those around him. One of his former teammates recently helped explain how James is able to get the most out of those around him.
Kyle Kuzma joined the “Draymond Green Show” for an episode published on Thursday. He talked about how he sacrificed his personal stats in order to help the Lakers win. He said that James’ presence and high standards spread to teammates, leading him to become selfless and focus on winning.
“You’re on that team and you see that man being a professional, you’re going to fall in line. Because it’s a certain standard and you don’t want to let someone down who cares so much about winning. You want to be a part of that too,” Kuzma said.
Kuzma noted how he went from being the Lakers’ second-leading scorer in 2018-19, which was James’ first season with the team, to averaging 12.8 points per game the following season. Kuzma sacrificed his stats and the Lakers ended up winning the championship.
Eventually, Kuzma was sent to Washington as part of a five-team trade that brought Russell Westbrook to the Lakers. He made $13 million and averaged 17.1 points per game. But his team finished 12 games under .500 and missed the playoffs. Kuzma didn’t have that same veteran leader around that he needed to be on his best for the way he did when teammates with James.