LeBron James probably feels like he blinked and now he’s one of the elder statesmen of the NBA.
The 36-year-old Lakers forward thought he’d seen it all, but on Sunday night against the Grizzlies, he saw something new. That would be 20-year-old rookie Ziaire Williams. Williams was Memphis’ 11th overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. He was also notably a teammate of Bronny James, LeBron’s 17-year-old son, at Sierra Canyon High School. Williams made reference to playing against LeBron during the offseason, where he said it’d be a crazy experience to face him.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center, scores past Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder, right, during the second half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
“That is going to be a crazy night, for real,” Williams said on July 31. “That’s crazy. It really just hit me that I’m really going to play LeBron. That’s going to be a fun experience.”
As crazy and surreal as that was for Williams, it was perhaps even more so for LeBron. LeBron has been awaiting the arrival of his highly touted son in the NBA and got a reminder that it’s not too far away from happening.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, top, shoots as Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton defends during the second half in Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James signals to a teammate during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
“Absolutely. I’m aware of everything that is going on on the floor,” LeBron said after the 121-118 victory. “I looked at Ziaire a couple of times, and I was just shaking my head inside just remembering a year and a half ago, two years, he was hitting a game-winner to send them to the state championship alongside my son. … It is a weird dynamic for myself to see something like that, but I’m happy for the kid, obviously. I had a moment for sure.”