NBA players in uniform surrounded by cameras and members of the media hurling questions in their general vicinity? No, you’re not dreaming. Friday kicked off the first batch of NBA Media Days, which will continue through Monday. While only five teams opened up the festivities on Friday — the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings — there were plenty of quotable moments and photo ops to go around.
Here’s a recap of all of the day’s events, in case you weren’t able to tune in.
LeBron ready to pass the torch
For the majority of his career, LeBron has dictated whichever offense he’s been a part of. He’s dominated the ball and basically been a coach on the floor orchestrating some of the league’s most efficient scoring attacks. But now he says he’s ready to allow his new teammate, Anthony Davis, to take on that role.
“If we’re not playing through Anthony Davis while he’s on the floor, then it makes no sense to have him on the floor,” James said. “Because he’s that great.”
LeBron has never played with a big man of Davis’ talent and skill set, so it will be interesting to see how (and if) he adapts his game to fit his new running mate.
Kyrie says he ‘failed’ Celtics teammates
Kyrie Irving has never been shy about voicing his opinion, so when he was asked about why chose not to re-sign with Boston, he certainly didn’t hold back. In a four-minute response, Irving talked about how things changed for him both personally (with the passing of his grandfather) and professionally, which ultimately led to his decision to sign with Brooklyn.
Irving didn’t shy away from his part in the Celtics’ disappointing 2018-19 season, admitting that he could have done a better job dealing with adversity.
“Throughout that year it just became rocky and a lot of the battles that I thought I could battle through from the team environment, I just wasn’t ready for,” Irving said. “And I failed those guys in a sense that I didn’t give them everything that I could have during that season, especially with the amount of pieces that we had.”
He also talked about how the deep collection of talent on the Celtics roster worked to their detriment, rather than their benefit.
“Marcus [Smart], Terry [Rozier] — all those guys just want to be great. We were all internally trying to be great,” Irving said. “I don’t think we were trying to be great as a team to meet at the top. And that happens in team environments all the time, whether people want to admit it or not.”
Durant much more succinct
In contrast to his loquacious teammate, Durant kept his comments about his decision to leave Golden State short and sweet.
“I felt like it was time for a change,” Durant said. “I wanted to play for a new team and simply put, I just did it.”
Durant added that he did plenty of YouTube research on Nets coach Kenny Atkinson before making his choice and that his relationship with Irving and Caris LeVert, combined with his desire to play on the East Coast, aided his final decision.
Westbrook ready to be terrifying, but not to media
There are plenty of questions about how the dynamic will work between new Rockets teammates (and old Thunder teammates) Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but Westbrook has a pretty good idea about the ultimate result.
“It’s gonna be scary. That’s all I can tell you,” Westbrook said. “It’s gonna be scary. Not for us.”
Westbrook also proclaimed that his days of refusing to answer pre- and postgame inquiries with his catchphrase, “next question,” have come to an end, much to the delight of the Houston media.
If the Rockets are struggling in December, however, we’ll see how long that edict lasts.
Butler uses colorful language
Though it wasn’t technically Media Day, in his first official appearance as a member of the Miami Heat, Jimmy Butler touched on various topics that . In the process, Butler delivered the quote of the day in response to a question about his public perception.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s out there, it’s just how deep you want to read into it,” Butler said. “I don’t think I’m that bad of a guy. I’m not an asshole like everybody thinks that I am.”
With all that happened at the beginning of last season (Butler’s trade demand from Minnesota, followed by reportedly hijacking practice while cursing out various teammates and members of the Wolves front office), you could see why he might think people question his character and leadership. But he seemed to get along with his teammates in Philadelphia, and hopes to do the same for the Heat.
Bucks fans have a collective panic attack
Imagine being a Bucks fan. You haven’t really paid attention to the NBA this summer. You open Twitter and the first thing you see is a big, bright, shiny, spanking-new Lakers jersey with the name “Antetokounmpo” curled across the back.
The horror! The horror!
Of course, this particular jersey belongs not to reigning MVP Giannis, but his brother Kostas, whom the Lakers signed this summer. With all the widespread speculation of Giannis possibly leaving the Bucks in the summer of 2021, however, this had to be a jarring sight. Not cool, NBA Twitter account. Not cool.
Oladipo going to be out ‘a while’
Victor Oladipo has become one of the best players in the NBA during his time with the Indiana Pacers, but a nasty quad injury forced him to miss the final two and a half months of last season. At media day, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said there’s no timetable for his star player’s return, but that he expects Oladipo to be out ‘a while.’ That being said, Oladipo than he was before the injury.
Walton addresses sexual misconduct allegations
First-year Kings head coach Luke Walton took the podium at media day and was asked about thebrought forth by sportscaster Kelli Tennant. Walton refused to get into details, and said that he’s getting through it by focusing on his team and his job.
“Same thing I tell my players. We’re together as a group, and what we have to focus on is what we have in front of us and what we can control,” Walton said. “This is my job, it’s my job to be the best for my players, to be there for my players, and that’s what I plan to do. … I’m here to do my job and focus on our Kings and get us where we need to get, and the rest of it will take care of itself.”