In a weird quirk of the schedule, LeBron James has had the opportunity to see the top three in last year's NBA draft in consecutive games.
After handling James Wiseman and the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers then dispatched Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves. That left LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on the star rookie checklist for James.
All smiles pregame, LeBron greeted LaMelo with a big hug, but from that point on it was all business.
Finishing with 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists, James went 14-for-22 from the field and 4-for-9 from three. Winning three of the four quarters, the result never felt in serious jeopardy, despite the plucky Hornets remaining with striking distance until the final minutes.
In his first matchup against James, Ball would tally 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists to lead the Hornets.
LeBron and LaMelo after facing off for the first time 🤝 pic.twitter.com/wuZ9fMU6Db- ESPN (@espn) March 19, 2021
While the pair weren't often directly matched up, this moment did catch LaMelo getting a front row seat to a classic LeBron jam.
LaMelo just had to watch that LeBron slam 😅 pic.twitter.com/9g3rG4IuyN- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 19, 2021
"Him and [Lonzo] are two very unique players in our league and they showcase that every night," James said of the Ball brothers when talking to the media postgame.
On a night where the potential Rookie of the Year met the potential Most Valuable Player, awards were topical in the postgame. The Lakers once again voiced their belief that James should not only be this year's winner, but should have many more than the four he currently holds.
"I should have more than four," James said, while head coach Frank Vogel went a step further.
"He's the MVP of the league so far, in my opinion," Vogel said, ""He's the best player to ever play the game, in my opinion."
"It's a mistake on the voters' part to go season after season without voting the best player in the league."
Both James and Ball will have to wait until the end of the season to claim the individual accolades, but at least in the short term we can look forward to another meeting between the pair in the middle of April.
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