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LeBron James on Tyrese Maxey: ‘Love this kid, man!’

LeBron James and Tyrese Maxey appear to have mutual admiration for one another.

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday, the Sixers handed LeBron James the worst loss of his 21-year NBA career. After the game, Tyrese Maxey heaped praise on the soon-to-be 39-year-old.

“The numbers, everything speaks for itself,” Maxey said. “He’s also someone who’s pretty good at basketball. And I feel like his work ethic now, in Year 21, it hasn’t slowed down, which is the crazy part to me. Like, he’s still trying to get there early.

“When we worked out at 6 [a.m.], he’s still trying to beat me to the gym. He has, what, four MVPs, Finals MVPs? He has all the things, his accolades are through the roof. And for him to still go out there and his want-to and his drive to try to beat a young, 22-year-old to the gym who hasn’t done anything? That just shows who he is, man. Hats off to him.”

Sixers reporter Lauren Rosen asked Maxey to divulge exactly what happened in those workouts, and Maxey was happy to oblige.

“The workout was at 6,” Maxey said. “I get there early, like always. 5:30 to stretch. Next time we work out at 6, he was there at 5 o’clock. When I walked in, he was in a full sweat. I said, ‘What’s wrong, what’re you doing?’ He was like, ‘I can’t let you beat me to the gym.’ I was like, ‘You’re insane.’ He was in a full sweat, just had to do a whole lift. That whole week, he was trying to get there at 5. And I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll lift after this workout, so you’ve got it, man.’”

Those comments didn’t go unnoticed. On Wednesday, James credited Maxey’s offseason work for his supernova start to the 2023-24 NBA season.

Those comments come in stark contrast to James’ curt replies to questions after Monday’s game. When asked what the Lakers needed to change to avoid another blowout loss like that, James replied, “Um, a lot.”

This is typically around the time in every season where James starts to agitate for roster changes, so no one should read too much into those comments. At 10-8, the Lakers are seventh in the West right now, but they’ve bounced back from a 3-5 start to win seven of their past 10 games.

It is worth noting, though, that James could become a free agent in July by declining his $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 season. And remind me, which team could easily create more than $50 million in cap space next summer if so desired? Oh, right.

To be clear: James is likely to end his career with the Lakers. His family is settled in L.A., and he has his off-court business portfolio to be mindful of, too. But maybe the third time will be the charm for Joel Embiid’s recruiting efforts?

Maxey is represented by Klutch Sports superagent Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron. James is likely just doing his part to hype up a fellow Klutch client, particularly one who’s headed for a nine-figure payday in July.

That likely won’t stop Embiid from dusting off the #Summer2024Goals hashtag, though.

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