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NBA Finals: Anthony Davis says 'respect' and 'true friendship' with LeBron James sparked Lakers

By Peter Hanson
LeBron James, Anthony Davis

Orlando, October 12: Anthony Davis opened up on how "respect" for and "true friendship" with LeBron James off the court built the foundations for the duo leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a record-equalling 17th NBA title.

The Lakers clinched a thrilling Finals 4-2 courtesy of a 106-93 defeat of the Miami Heat in Orlando in Sunday's Game 6, after which James was named series MVP.

Davis' first season in LA has been an unmitigated success and he averaged 25 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists during the Finals, as well as shooting 57.5 per cent from the field.

The prediction that the signing of Davis to play alongside superstar James would end the Lakers' 10-year title drought came to fruition and the former New Orleans Pelicans star says his relationship with his team-mate was key.

NBA Finals: LeBron James wins fourth MVP award after leading Lakers

"[It's built on] respect. True friendship. Off the court – we're close on the court, but you've got to see us off the court. It's unreal. I'm always at his house. He's always at my house. This is true the entire season," Davis said.

"There's no jealousy. No one is envious of each other. Guys don't have personal agendas. We're just two guys who just want to win for various reasons. We were able to do it.

"And having a team who gets on us. Do [Rajon Rondo], Duds [Jared Dudley], all these guys are in our ear every single game about being great.

"When you've got a supporting cast like that, who make shots, and big shots for you, it makes our jobs a hell of a lot easier to go out there and just do what we do, knowing that if we have bad games, they pick us up. And if they are playing pretty bad, then we pick them up.

"We have a great team who trusts one another. It starts with me and Bron. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I challenge him. He challenges me. It's not always sweet and smooth, but it gets the job done.

"You're going to have confrontations and arguments throughout the season to win a championship. We had our fair share. But at the end of the day, we respect one another. We respect what each one is trying to do. I respect his game, he respects my game and we just put it all together."

Davis, who had 19 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in Game 6, is about to enter free agency and said, "I have no idea" and "I'm sure we'll figure it out" when probed about his future.

It seems unthinkable Davis will depart the Lakers and the 27-year-old spoke about the moment he realised he was part of a team capable of winning the championship.

"It was really after the first couple games of the regular season where we would start rolling – playing defense, scoring the basketball – and we realised how great of a team that we are and that we got enough to become champions this year," he added.

"The entire time here in the bubble, he [James] never let us get too high, never get too low after losses. Just said, 'One game at a time'. And he knows what it takes on both sides, being up in a series and being down in a series and winning."

Towards the end of the game, Davis walked into the back with James chasing after his team-mate and the former revealed some light-hearted ribbing from the latter.

"I was 25 seconds from becoming a champion. I got emotional. It's the type of journey that I've been on, my team has been on, the organization has been on – it all came just full circle with this championship. So, I just got real emotional," he said.

"He [James] was bothering me, saying, 'You're soft. Oh, you cry baby'. I walked to the back, and there was a banner trophy. I kind of grabbed it. Then we walked back out to the court. It was an unbelievable feeling, and just an emotional moment for me."

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Story first published: Monday, October 12, 2020, 13:00 [IST]
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