ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called out LeBron James after the Los Angeles Lakers superstar claimed he only cares about his team’s success and not his own.
Smith repeatedly said James lied, but didn’t necessarily knock the four-time NBA MVP, Sportscasting reported.
James made the statement about caring for his team’s success more than his own after complaining about how few votes he received to be the season’s Most Valuable Player.
“It pissed me off,” James said, as reported by The Athletic. “That’s my true answer. It pissed me off because out of 101 votes, I got 16 first-place votes. That’s what pissed me off more than anything.”
The complaint came after the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the MVP for the second time in a row, even though James had better stats throughout the season and his team beat Antetokounmpo’s team in the NBA championship.
After complaining, James was asked if it made him feel better to beat Antetokounmpo’s team.
“Nah, I think you know me; I think all you guys know me, it’s never been about individual, it’s all about the team’s success. That’s all that matters,” James said, according to ESPN. “I can care less about that. I just try to play well and help our team win versus any opponent, and that’s what it’s all about.”
It was this statement that set Smith off, calling James a liar but insisting he has every right to care about his individual success as well.
“I think that LeBron stood in front of the cameras last night and lied to the American public, and anybody else who was listening,” Smith said on Friday’s episode of “First Take.” “But I’m not knocking him for it. I think that, listen, LeBron wouldn’t be as great as he is if all he thought about was the outcome for the team. Especially in the sport of basketball, there is some individual pride that seeps into the equation, where you put dude’s on notice, ‘This is who the hell I am. Don’t forget.’”
“When LeBron sits up there and goes in for a layup and gets an and-1 and flexes his muscle, is that about the team? When he sits up there and dunks on somebody and screams at the crowd, is that about the team? … Nobody’s accusing him of caring about his individual accolades more than the team. No, he’s proven that he’s unselfish on that level,” Smith continued.
“There’s no way you can be as great as him, and you never have that intestinal fortitude and that individual pride to put your greatness on display; you don’t spend a-million-and-a-half dollars on your physique, your body, your conditioning, and everything that comes with it to be as great as you can be just for the team to win a championship,” he added. “No, you want to be the reason or a primary reason why you win that championship.”
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