Ever since he was in high school, LeBron James has been under an electron microscope, and although much of the attention and feedback he has gotten from fans and the media has been positive, he has also gotten his share of criticism.
The criticism got especially hot during his first season with the Miami Heat, and once again shortly after he joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.
Other than his 4-6 record in the NBA Finals, most feel James has met or even exceeded the hype that has surrounded him.
Right before L.A. took on the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, their head coach, Gregg Popovich, gave the four-time MVP lots of praise for how he has handled scrutiny.
Via Lakers Nation:
“It used to anger me when he first came in,” Popovich said. “If he made a pass, somebody said, ‘He should’ve shot it.’ If he shot the ball, it was, ‘He should’ve passed it.’ It really would anger me. They would just deal with the negative. It was a fake negative, in a way. The guy was doing everything great and handling himself great. Young kid with all of that attention and doing what he was doing.
“I just thought he was wonderful. It would just annoy me. Whenever I would be around him or whenever I had the chance, I would say it publicly. ‘Why don’t you guys talk to him?’ and ‘He did this; he did that.’ That’s what I remember the most — the way he handled himself in the middle of all of that. All of us, we don’t know what is to have that kind of attention and those kinds of demands.
“For something like him, I can’t even fathom. It was super.”
The Lakers will take on the Spurs again on Friday and Saturday, which will give Popovich yet another front-row seat to witness James. Of course, the long-time Spurs coach has seen the superstar up close in three NBA Finals matchups.
James has missed the Lakers’ last five games with a strained adductor, but he is expected to return on Friday.