LeBron James has been in the NBA for a long time. He was reminded of that Monday during the Lakers’ 121-118 win over the Grizzlies.
James played a game-high 40 minutes in the Lakers’ victory. At times, he was on the court with Memphis rookie Ziaire Williams.
James knows Williams — the 20-year-old and 10th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft — well. Williams played at Sierra Canyon High School and was a teammate of Bronny James, LeBron’s son.
The elder James found the experience of playing against Williams a bit jarring.
“I looked at Ziaire a couple times and was just like shaking my head inside,” James told reporters after the game. “Just remembering a year and a half ago, two years — not even a full two years — he was hitting a game-winner to send them to the state championship alongside my son, and going to the game and supporting Sierra Canyon, and one year at Stanford and now he’s here. It’s a weird dynamic for myself to see something like that but happy for the kid, obviously. But I had a moment for sure.”
It may be a bit of a strange experience for James to play against young players he’s familiar with. However, he should handle himself well against them, as he did on Monday night.
James spent 2:05 of the game as the primary defender on Williams, per NBA.com, and Williams didn’t record a shot attempt or turnover. Williams had three points and three rebounds in 18 minutes of action. He made just one of six shots from the field.
Williams guarded James on defense for just 24 seconds and didn’t allow the veteran forward to attempt a shot. James finished the game with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
James, who turns 37 in December, may have this odd feeling again. Sierra Canyon has several potential pro prospects who should make their way to the NBA in the coming years. That could potentially include Bronny, who ranks 49th overall in ESPN’s top 60 recruits for the class of 2023.
So, if James feels odd about playing against Williams, imagine how he’ll feel if Bronny eventually makes it to the NBA while he’s still playing.