LeBron James poked fun at former team-mate Dwyane Wade's stunning game-winner on Wednesday by claiming his own effort was more difficult.

Wade, playing in his final NBA season, scored a one-handed buzzer-beater as the Miami Heat defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-125, while James' own eye-catching three-pointer helped the Los Angeles Lakers to a 125-119 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Asked to rank the two, league great James took the opportunity to mock Wade's effort, questioning his unorthodox technique.

"Mine was a little bit more difficult than his," he said with a smile.

"His was weird. I don't know if that was even a shot. You know how you play pop-a-shot? He had to, because he had no time, but I think my shot was more difficult."

Describing a decisive moment in the Lakers' win at the Staples Center, James said: "I just trusted my mechanics, trusted my shot, and gave it a chance. And it went in."

Los Angeles coach Luke Walton added: "I think he had his hands in the air before it went in. That's what great players do.

"That's an impossible shot and we needed it at that moment. We had kind of stalled out offensively. A big-time shot by one of the all-time greats."

James put up 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds as the Lakers improved to 30-31.

Luka Doncic threw down the gauntlet for Floyd Mayweather Jr to prove his basketball skills after the boxing legend told the Dallas Mavericks rookie he plays just like him.

On Monday, Doncic met the unbeaten star when the Mavericks faced off against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 19-year-old was asked about his meeting with Mayweather, a former five-weight world champion, after he registered a triple-double of 28 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in the Mavericks' 121-112 defeat to the Clippers.

"He said he plays like me," Doncic said, in quotes reported by the Charlotte Observer. "I said I want to see it live!"

Doncic had missed the Mavericks' previous two games with an ankle problem.

A disgruntled LeBron James says if any of his Los Angeles Lakers are distracted by a push for the playoffs they should ask to leave the team.

James made history by becoming the only player to feature in the NBA's top-10 lists for points and assists as he finished with a triple-double of 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in Monday's 110-105 loss at the Memphis Grizzlies.

But the all-time great was not in a celebratory mood following a second straight loss in their post All-Star break playoff push, undoing the good work of a comeback win against the Houston Rockets.

It means the Lakers are now 11th in the Western Conference and four games shy of the eighth-place San Antonio Spurs.

The Lakers have endured a tumultuous season with injuries hitting the team and trade rumours never far from the headlines, but James says anyone who does not have the fight for the cause must leave.

In quotes reported by ESPN, he said: "At this point if you are still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come and be like, 'Listen, I don't [think this is for me]. I cannot do this'.

"Like, seriously, if you're distracted by playoff pushes out of all the stuff that's been talked about this year, nah. 

"Just come and do your job. We do our job at a high level and that's not a distraction. That's what you want. That's what you want every game. You want to feel like you're fighting for something."

However, James is keeping an optimistic outlook as he aims to avoid missing out on the playoffs for the first since the 2004-05 season.

"I just got to stay positive. Keep knocking on the door," he added.

"And I felt like if we play like we did tonight, then we got to continue that consistent effort, that will get us over the hump as we make this push."

LeBron James accomplished what no other NBA player ever has on Monday.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar climbed into 10th on the all-time assist list against the Memphis Grizzlies with a pass to Kyle Kuzma in the first quarter.

James is now the only player in NBA history to rank in the top 10 all-time in both points and assists.

He bumped Andre Miller from the 10th spot on the all-time assist list and ranks fifth on the all-time scoring list.

He came into the matchup averaging 26.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 2018-19.

The Lakers entered Monday with a 29-30 record and ranked 10th in the Western Conference standings.

Los Angeles are trying to get back into the playoff hunt and are three games behind the Clippers for the eighth seed.

LeBron James has become the face of the NBA playoffs but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in 14 years.

The last time the playoffs were James-less was in 2004-05, when the San Antonio Spurs reigned supreme, while the three-time champion has featured in the past eight NBA Finals.

James swapped the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers in the offseason - hoping to guide the iconic Los Angeles franchise to the playoffs for the first time in six years.

The 34-year-old, however, is facing one of his biggest challenges. Despite proclaiming he "activated" his playoff intensity earlier than usual, the Lakers still find themselves three games adrift of the final postseason spot in the Western Conference.

With the season on the line, we take a look at what the world looked like in 2004-05, when James last missed the playoffs.

 

Brady had three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots

While James and the Cavs missed out on the playoffs with a 42-40 record in the east, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots celebrated another NFL Super Bowl.

The Patriots edged the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Jacksonville, where Paul McCartney performed during the half-time show at Alltel Stadium.

Brady was 23 of 33 for 236 yards and two touchdowns as he won a third ring in four years. This year, he claimed his record sixth Super Bowl crown.

Seattle SuperSonics were still a thing in the NBA

The 2004-05 campaign was the Seattle SuperSonics' 38th season in the NBA before relocating and becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.

During that season, the Sonics - led by Ray Allen - finished third in the Western Conference with 52 wins. They beat the Sacramento Kings 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs but fell to eventual champions the Spurs in the conference semis.

NBA draft prospect Zion was five years old

Projected number one draft pick Zion Williamson is set to follow in the footsteps of James and take the NBA by storm. The North Carolina-born forward was just five years of age in 2005, when James' Cavaliers lost a tiebreaker for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference to the New Jersey Nets - now known as the Brooklyn Nets.

Mourinho won the first of his Premier League titles at Chelsea

Jose Mourinho was lured away from Champions League winners Porto by Chelsea in 2004-05. It proved to be a masterstroke by owner Roman Abramovich.

Mourinho – the self-proclaimed 'Special One' – announced himself in England with the Premier League title thanks a then-record 95-point haul.

NHL lockout stopped the ice hockey season

Not since 1919 had a Stanley Cup not been awarded but that is exactly what happened in 2004-05 over a pay dispute.

The NHL lockout saw the entire season cancelled - resulting in 1,230 unplayed games. The lockout lasted 10 months and six days, starting on September 16, 2004 before a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was reached on July 13 with the impasse officially ending on July 22.

It was the first time a major professional sports league in North America cancelled a complete season over a labour dispute.

Batman Begins, Star Wars took the world by storm

Batman films had come and gone but Christopher Nolan's first instalment in his trilogy of movies left a lasting impression.

Starring Christian Bale, 'Batman Begins' was released on June 15, 2005 and grossed over $48million on the opening weekend in North America. Worldwide, the blockbuster eventually grossed $374m, leading to an Academy Award nomination.

'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith' also hit the cinemas in May. The George Lucas juggernaut broke several box office records during its opening week. The sixth instalment of the film series generated $848m across the globe.

Apple released iPod shuffle, Bill Gates knighted by the Queen

We have state of the art iPod touch's but in 2005, the iPod shuffle was just hitting shelves. Apple released the first generation of the tiny music player in January that year.

Two months later, the king of computer software and Microsoft owner Bill Gates received an honorary knighthood from the Queen.

Lebron James questioned the urgency and mindset of his team-mates after the Los Angeles Lakers' hopes of reaching the NBA playoffs were dealt another blow.

The Lakers – seeking their first postseason berth in six years – were beaten 128-115 by the New Orleans Pelicans, who rested All-Star Anthony Davis on Saturday.

With the result, the Lakers (29-30) dropped three-and-a-half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

James – who joined the Lakers in the offseason and had 27 points and 12 assists in the defeat to the Pelicans – has not missed the playoffs since 2004-05, having featured in the past eight NBA Finals.

And the three-time NBA champion was left questioning the Lakers, telling reporters post-game: "How many know what's at stake if you've never been there.

"I'm playing devil's advocate, you know? It's kind of a fine line when you talk about that, because when you've never been there or know what it takes to actually shoot for something like that, sometimes you're afraid to get uncomfortable.

"So you got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. So I'm not saying that's what we are as a whole. It kind of looks that way at times, that sometimes we're afraid to be uncomfortable and kind of get out of our comfort zone and kind of, you know, have that sense of urgency from the jump, and not be afraid to actually go out and fail to succeed. So, I mean we have, what? Twenty-three games left. We'll see what happens."

James added: "The last few years, everyone's so accustomed to the losses that I'm just not accustomed to.

"I'm not accustomed to it. I will never get comfortable with losing. So, losing game one to Houston [at home], it feels the same way as losing Game 59 in New Orleans to me. It's just how I'm built. That's who I am."

"I knew it was going to be very challenging," the 34-year-old continued. "Just because of the experience the roster had at that point and time. I knew it was going to be challenging from that sense, but I felt like we could still play better basketball.

"And we were doing that and obviously it sucks that my injury happened and [Lonzo Ball's] injury happened and so many of our injuries happened."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James held his breath for Zion Williamson after the top NBA prospect suffered a knee injury

Duke star Williamson left Wednesday's matchup against North Carolina inside a minute and did not return midweek.

The 18-year-old freshman suffered the injury while dribbling toward the basket about 40 seconds into the game when his Nike sneaker ripped.

Williamson fell to the floor and grabbed his leg before heading to the Duke bench and then the locker room.

NBA great James reacted on social media, writing via Twitter: "Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew thru his [shoe]."

Williamson has been one of the best players in college basketball this season and he is expected to be selected with the number one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

LeBron James is ready to try to lead the Los Angeles Lakers into the NBA postseason, with the superstar relishing the challenge.

The Lakers (28-29) entered the All-Star break three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

But, three-time champion James – who has made 13 straight playoff appearances – said he is not panicking ahead of Thursday's clash with the Houston Rockets.

"I enjoy the challenge of anything," James told reporters on Wednesday. "I enjoy being uncomfortable. I enjoy being counted out…

"I'm an African-American kid from Akron, Ohio, [and from] a single-parent household. Basketball is nothing compared to how I made it out.

"This is just basketball, and I know I'm ready for the challenge."

James signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Lakers in the offseason. He is averaging 26.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists in his first season in Los Angeles.

"I'm all about being uncomfortable," James added. "I love being uncomfortable. I fall in love with being uncomfortable. This is another uncomfortable thing for me, and I love it."

 

Luka Doncic has been likened to LeBron James and the duo's rookie numbers certainly show the Dallas Mavericks sensation and the Los Angeles Lakers superstar are comparable at this stage of the Slovenian's career.

It was Dwyane Wade who said 19-year-old Doncic's passing ability was "LeBron James-like" after facing the Mavs with the Miami Heat last week.

Doncic, the third overall pick in last year's draft, is the clear frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award, a prize James took home in 2003-04 when he was a teenager playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Four-time MVP James has gone on to establish himself as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and the statistics from his rookie campaign are remarkably similar to Doncic's debut season in Dallas.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the numbers for Doncic in 2018-19 and James in 2003-04.

Points per game: Doncic 20.7, James 20.9

James was one of 17 players to average at least 20 points per game and he finished his first season 13th, behind the likes of fellow rookie Carmelo Anthony (21) and Tracy McGrady, who led the entire NBA with 28.

A sign of how the league has changed is evidenced by the fact that, at the All-Star break, there were 30 players averaging at least 20 points and one, James Harden (36.6), averaging more than 30. In his 55 games to date, Doncic is averaging 7.3 fewer minutes on court than James but is providing similar production.

Rebounds per game: Doncic 7.2, James 5.5

James may be taller and bigger than Doncic, but the Slovenian is proving adept when it comes to boards.

The Mavs youngster ranks 36th in the league in rebounds, with James finishing his first campaign 58th in that category.

Assists per game: Doncic 5.6, James 5.9

Wade's suggestion the two are similar in the way they dish the ball around is backed up by the stats.

Doncic is 21st in the NBA for assists per game, ahead of All-Stars like Stephen Curry and Paul George, though James was 13th overall in 2003-04.

Field goal percentage: Doncic 43, James 41.7

James attempted three more shots on average in his maiden term but Doncic is proving more efficient.

The rise of three-point attempts is also reflected in the fact Doncic is making 2.4 per game from seven attempts, while James' rookie average was only 0.8 made from 2.7 attempted.

Double-doubles: Doncic 13, James 12

Despite playing 24 fewer games than James did, Doncic already has more double-doubles than his counterpart managed.

Triple-doubles: Doncic 3, James 0

James failed to register a triple-double in his first campaign in Cleveland. Doncic became the second-youngster player to achieve the feat in January and has gone on to do it twice more.

In fact, only six players have recorded more triple-doubles than Doncic in 2018-19 - one of whom is James.

Pat Riley thinks the Miami Heat had a good chance to win more championships if LeBron James remained with the team.

James left the Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami in July 2010. The trio made four NBA Finals appearances and won two titles together before James returned to Cleveland prior to the 2014-15 season.

Riley, the long-time Heat president, reflected on James leaving the team during a recent interview with ESPN.

"When LeBron made that call, I saw a dynasty fly out the window," Riley said. "I didn't blame him, but I knew that was a 10-year team. It was just a sad day for me and our franchise because I wanted that dynasty.

"I wanted this city and this team to go 10 years and maybe be in the Finals eight times. I don't know how many championships we would have won. But, I don't have any rancor towards him, at all."

James, a 15-time All-Star and four-time MVP, went on to make four more trips to the Finals and won another championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. He became a free agent this offseason and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Heat have made two playoff appearances in the four seasons since James departed. They are in a virtual tie with the Detroit Pistons for eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he and LeBron James "get along just fine".

The Lakers entered the NBA All-Star break sitting 10th in the Western Conference with a 28-29 record amid an inconsistent run of form.

Some have speculated James may prefer a coaching change but Walton said he "didn't know anything about that" when he spoke to TMZ Sports.

"LeBron and I get along just fine," Walton said.

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month the Lakers have had no "internal discussions" about firing Walton.

Walton is expected to finish the season as the Lakers' coach, that report said.

James signed a four-year, $154million contract with the Lakers in the offseason.

The three-time NBA champion is averaging 26.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists in his first season in Los Angeles, but missed more than a month with a groin strain.

The Lakers return to action against the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

 

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is no longer the first vice-president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).

James' four-year term expired, and the three-time NBA champion will be replaced by Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala has been a vice-president with the NBPA since 2013.

"I am honoured to be chosen by my peers to step into this position and take on a larger responsibility within the NBPA," Iguodala said in a statement.

"I look forward to continuing my work with [NBPA executive director] Michele [Roberts], Chris Paul and the Executive Committee to accomplish the best possible outcomes for the union and our future members."

Stephen Curry and Carmelo Anthony will relinquish their positions on the committee. Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon and Bismack Biyombo will replace them as vice-presidents.

"Malcolm, Jaylen and Bismack have all shown a great commitment to the union since they arrived in the league," NBPA president Chris Paul said. "I have no doubt they will bring a fresh perspective and passion to the Executive Committee and I am excited to start working with them."

Paul, 33, is expected to serve as the NBPA president through 2023, while Iguodala is 35-years-old.

Brogdon, Brown and Biyombo are all younger than 27. 

 

LeBron James immediately switched his attention to aiding the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff bid after claiming victory in the NBA All-Star Game.

Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 178-164 on Sunday, the Lakers superstar contributing 19 points with eight rebounds and four assists.

James' groin injury, sustained on Christmas Day, coincided with the Lakers' drop in form as they slipped from fourth to 10th in the Western Conference.

And as soon as the All-Star Game was over, James outlined his desire to inspire his team (28-29) on a charge to the post-season.

"Looking forward to the second half of the season," he said. "Looking forward to seeing what we can do to get back in this playoff race. That's my only mindset.

"That's the only thing that's going to happen in my mental space for these next two months, pretty much on how I can get this team playing the type of level of basketball we were playing before my injury."

Such is James' winning mentality, the three-time NBA champion was even desperate to be the first to reach the post-game podium and speak to the media.

"You put me on the floor, I love to compete," he said. "I'm a competitor, no matter what it is. I was competing to see if I can get to this table first. Did anybody come here before me?

"See what I'm talking about? See you all the second half of the season."

Team LeBron did not get off to a great start, but came back to claim a 178-164 victory over Team Giannis in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team were motivated, but Team LeBron's late game run was too much to handle.

Kevin Durant took home his second All-Star Game MVP with 31 points.

Here are three takeaways from the final event of All-Star weekend.

 

Giannis is ready to take the league by storm

Although the Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the NBA and Antetokounmpo is a frontrunner for MVP, Team LeBron were considered the favourite in this contest.

Antetokounmpo responded to the critics with a plethora of dunks. His most impressive one came on an unorthodox bounce pass from Stephen Curry.

Antetokounmpo even managed to rattle a pair of three-pointers home en route to his 38 points and 11 rebounds on 17-of-23 shooting. 

 

Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade still have gas in the tank

Nowitzki and Wade played limited minutes in the game, but still showed bursts of the talent that helped them become legends.

Nowitzki connected on all three of his field goal attempts, and all of them were three-pointers.

Meanwhile, Wade notched his 13th All-Star appearance and got to throw one last lob to his good friend James.

Wade finished with seven points on two-of-four shooting.

 

Three points are better than two

As always, the All-Star Game featured basketball's best shooters. When it came down to it, long-range marksmen were what won the game.

Despite trailing by 13 points at the half and battling against a deficit of 20 plus, Team LeBron used the deep ball to secure the victory.

James' squad shot 90 three-pointers, which was 13 more than the opposition. It connected on 35 of those attempts and 11 different players contributed at least one made three-pointer.

Six total players hit five or more three-pointers in the contest, the most ever in an All-Star Game.

Team LeBron took home a victory in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, beating Team Giannis 178-164 on Sunday. 

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