Whicker: Even the teenage LeBron won the battle of the mind

first_img VIDEO: Watch Kyle Kuzma’s game winner and what he said about it Since such news is being leaked through a cone of league-imposed silence, which also serves as a masterful marketing tool, we can only guess. We use “could” and “might” a lot. Let’s wait until all the dice are rolled.Dambrot says James won’t be Walton’s problem, amid the 99 others.“A lot of people are scared to coach LeBron, but he wants that,” Dambrot said. “If he senses you don’t know your stuff, maybe you don’t want to coach him. You can’t B.S. him. But he wants to be challenged.“Maybe the Lakers can use him in different ways than Cleveland did. His defense suffered a little this season because he had to do so much offensively. He can be used on the other end of things. He’s the fastest lane runner in the game, so maybe Ball can find him on breaks. You tailor your team to him because he can play with anybody and everybody.”Meanwhile, SVSM keeps winning championships. “Everything LeBron touches turns to gold,” Dambrot said.Or returns to it. VIDEO: LeBron James and Doc Rivers respond to Donald Trump calling NBA kneeling protests “disgraceful” Morning Wrap: Full coverage from Lakers-Clippers thriller; Angels, Dodgers going in different directions; Whicker pays tribute to legendary Mike Gillespie Jubilation, anguish as race for NBA’s Western 8th seed gets as close as ever Lakers on verge of sealing home court advantage, what does it mean in the NBA bubble? center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersDambrot then became an assistant at the University of Akron and then the head coach. Today he coaches Duquesne, his alma mater.Dambrot still texts James, “usually when I think he needs a pick-me-up.” He still relates to him as coach to player. Not long ago he challenged James to lead the NBA in rebounds.To say James is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a coach is to underestimate the length of a lifetime. Dambrot has little doubt that James, who committed himself to the Lakers on Sunday, will take the ongoing saga to the limit.“When he was younger I thought he’d be Magic Johnson,” Dambrot said. “I remember as a kid he would flip a pass back over his head to someone else in the post. Just things that you never see anybody do. I didn’t think he’d become a combination of Magic and Michael Jordan. But he morphed into that.”Dru Joyce II was a SVSM player who first pointed out James to Dambrot. At that time James was 6-foot-4, 170. There are a lot of those, but when Dambrot told him something, James absorbed and never relinquished it. “People are a little misled,” Dambrot said. “LeBron was a great player before he was big and strong. He wasn’t fully developed when I first saw him. He just had the best young instincts you ever saw. Then he became this specimen.“I remember one sectional tournament game in a little town called Sebring. After the game, there was a long line of people waiting for his autograph. Some of them were guys on the team we’d just played.”James was the first high school freshman to play in the All-Star Game at the famous Five-Star Camp, with NBA guys on that court. By the time Dambrot left, St. Vincent-St. Mary’s was the prep equivalent to the Globetrotters. It played Mater Dei at Pauley Pavilion. Games were rock concerts. Sports Illustrated put him on the cover as a junior.Earlier this year, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said James and Tiger Woods were the two contemporary athletes who were faced with an Everest of hype and somehow climbed atop it.James’ first unofficial day as a Laker was a zipline ride. Within 22 hours of his announcement, the Lakers agreed to sign Lance Stephenson and Javale McGee, agreed to re-sign Kentavious Caldwell Pope, renounced restricted free agent Julius Randle and agreed with Rajon Rondo.The roster became an ink blotch, open to interpretation.Rondo, a three-time league leader in assists, played brilliantly for New Orleans and helped Jrue Holiday reach unseen levels of play. Can he do the same for Lonzo Ball, or is last year’s second overall pick suddenly a spare part?Will the new bodies free up some combination of Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram to comprise a trade bouquet for Kawhi Leonard?How is Coach Luke Walton expected to preside over a locker room of enough truculence and goofiness to fill a World Cup stadium?And since the Warriors reportedly agreed to sign DeMarcus Cousins, giving them a full set of All-Stars in their starting five, is this all dust in the wind?Related Articles Some witnesses can tell you LeBron James’ mind arrived before his body.He was a wily panther in the basketball underbrush before he became a Jurassic beast.“He was a genius when he was 13 years old,” Keith Dambrot said. “When he was a ninth-grader I knew he wasn’t going to college.”Dambrot coached the freshman/sophomore James at St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron, Ohio, when James was a prince heading toward investiture. 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