LeBron James walked away with the MVP award at the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament but had to play down talk of locker room jealousy with team-mate Anthony Davis.
Davis was the best player on the court as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 123-109 – scoring 41 points and adding 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in a brilliant all-round display.
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Despite that, James was awarded the MVP trophy, leading to some awkward questions at the post-game ceremony.
“I know who I am, he knows who he is,” said James, who starred in the semi-final win over the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 24 points and notched 11 rebounds and four assists against the Pacers.
He added to ESPN: “So, there’s no friction. We’re not trying to compete with one another on the court or on a lifestyle basis. He knows who he is, I know who I am.
“The only thing we’re trying to do is hold each other accountable when we get to work and try to be the best we can be for each other, and when one is not going well, try to pick each other up. There’s no jealousy. There’s not a jealous bone in our bodies. We’re never jealous of one another. Ever.”
Davis was fulsome in his praise of James, insisting the four-time NBA MVP did his utmost to give him the platform on which to perform.
“He’ll say things like, ‘Let’s get AD going.’ Or, ‘Run this for AD,'” Davis said. “He’s doing a good job of making sure that I get my touches to have an opportunity to take over ballgames like tonight. So, he’s been in my corner through the ups and downs and the indifferent. He’s always been a guy who I can count on, who I can lean on for advice, or he just knows.
“He just knows me. I just had that look tonight and he said, ‘I’m going to follow your lead.’ And he was able to, and the team was able to allow me be the guy and just feed off of it.”