How LeBron James and Anthony Davis connect to reach NBA Finals

Dan Woike
·4 min read
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) and Anthony Davis (3) celebrate after defeating the Denver Nuggets 124-121 during an NBA basketball game Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Lakers stars LeBron James (23) and Anthony Davis are four wins from sharing their ultimate goal: an NBA championship. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

LeBron James is going to grab a seat.

He could go out into the hallway. He could try to catch the first bus back to the hotel, to get a jump on his nightly postgame recovery routine that stretches into the early morning of the next day.

But he always chooses to wait.

James will not walk out of the arena until Anthony Davis does, sitting and watching his teammate answer questions until the two can leave the building together.

It’s the epitome of how James and Davis have bought all-in on one another. Never alone. Always together.

And now they are four wins away from an NBA championship.

After the Lakers eliminated Denver on Saturday night to earn their first NBA Finals appearance in a decade, James joked with Davis that he needed to hurry up. The in-bubble default club — a restaurant in the middle of Villa del Lago — has last call soon and the two needed to celebrate.

Just like they did after the Lakers bounced Houston, the team celebrated at Three Bridges Bar & Grill — this time the buzz from the party and the speaker blaring Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later” easily filling the 200 yards' worth of space between the celebration and the campus hotel.

Even the team’s security guard, Robert Lara, rolled by in a golf cart with a cigar hanging out of his mouth.

There was time to celebrate until early Sunday — the party didn’t end until 4 a.m.

While the Lakers made it clear their main goal hasn’t been completed, James did manage to accomplish something he wanted — to take Davis to a place he’d never been before. Those NBA Finals will begin Wednesday if Miami eliminates Boston on Sunday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. If the Celtics force a deciding Game 7 on Wednesday, the Finals begin Friday.

“This is the reason why I wanted to be a teammate of his and why I brought him here,” James said. “I wanted him to see things that he had not seen before in this league. To be able to come through for him meant a lot for me personally.”

Asked about what Davis has meant to him this season, James tried to transport back to a “long-ass time ago to when I was 27 in this league."

“I just wanted to put myself kind of in his position," James said. "Sometimes what I would be thinking at that age and if I was with someone in the later stage of their career, I just don't want to let them down. And I'm not even talking on the floor, because there's things that sometimes they go in, they don't go in. But as far as — I don't want to say a role model — but someone that holds myself to a higher standard as far as character. I don't want to let them down.

“And then, it's funny because it's kind of rubbed off on me as well because he doesn't want to let me down.”

James cracked that they’re like the main characters in “Step Brothers,” even if he’s 100% the movie’s star, Will Ferrell.

Still, this entire run in the NBA bubble has been validating for Davis, confirming the greatest player of his generation's belief that Davis’ incredible numbers in New Orleans weren’t hollow, that the things he did on the court could lead to championships.

“When I first got here, he told me that he wants to give me my first ring. And I told him, I want to get him back to the Finals,” Davis said. “… I tell him all the time, ‘I got your back; you got my back.’

“… We know why I came here. We want to win a championship.”

The duo is combining to average 55.5 points, 19.6 rebounds and 12.5 assists per game this postseason with each player making more than half his field-goal attempts. Whether it’s Miami or Boston, the two will be the most dynamic players on the court each game in the NBA Finals.

They might also be the most connected. Davis said he’ll even let James be Ferrell if it means they finish the job.

“We're four wins away, a step closer to our goal,” Davis said. “He feels that if we don't [win], then you know, he let me down. I feel like if we don't, then I let him down. …

“We don't want to have that feeling.”