LOS ANGELES – Twenty years after LeBron James was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 3 pick in the league’s most recent draft, had something to say to the Los Angeles Lakers star. to make him feel his age.
“Hey,” Smith said on video captured by NBA television cameras during the Lakers’ 140-132 victory Monday night, “you played your first NBA game against my dad.
Jabari Smith Sr., father of the 19-year-old Rockets rookie, was indeed on the Kings’ roster when James made his regular-season debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 29, 2003, in Sacramento.
Elder Smith was 26 years old at the time, and James was only 18.
Now that James is 38, these kinds of intergenerational basketball connections are becoming, well, old hat.
“It made me feel so old when Junior told me that,” James said after the game. “I think he even said this. “You must feel old.”
Smith said the joke might have been a little unsettling for the four-time MVP.
“He was kind of mad because he said I made him feel old,” Smith said after the game. “I knew I was going to tell him that, just something my dad told me. I didn’t really know. It’s just a great state.”
James, however, wasn’t crazy enough to hug Smith on the court after the game, or have one of the best nights of his season for the Lakers.
James scored a season-high 48 points on 16-for-26 shooting (including 5-for-10 from 3 and 9-for-10 from the free throws) with nine assists and eight rebounds to help snap Los Angeles’ three game losing streak. .
He goes on to eclipse Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record of 38,387 points, bringing his total to 38,072.
And James did just that while playing 36 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back.
“I was too exhausted today, too tired,” James said. “Body was sore from the fight against Phil yesterday. I think when I step on the floor to warm up and the crowd is there, it’s my job to go out there and play my best.”
Another father-son career dynasty for James played Monday at Crypto.com Arena, where he played with Kenyon Martin Jr. while Martin’s father, who played 15 seasons in the NBA, sat courtside.
Make that connection even wilder? The fact that Martin is a graduate of Sierra Canyon High School, the same school that James’ sons, Bronny and Bryce, attend.
“I’m just incredibly blessed to have been able to play this game and to have been able to touch so many generations,” James said.
James also played against Gary Payton and Gary Payton II; Rick Brunson and his son Jalen Brunson; and Gary Trent Sr. and Gary Trent Jr.
James played against Zaire Williams of the Memphis Grizzlies, one of Bronny’s high school teammates, and he plays with another former Bronny teammate, Scottie Pippen Jr., on this season’s Lakers. James played on the same team with Shannon Brown early in his career in Cleveland, as well as his younger brother Sterling Brown, whose 10-day contract with the Lakers expired over the weekend. James’ first nationally televised game was in high school with Bill Walton as an analyst, and during his first season in Los Angeles, James coached Walton’s son Luke.
Additionally, Rockets coach Stephen Silas is the son of James’ first NBA coach with the Cavs, the late Paul Silas.
“It’s just a unique thing that I’ve been able to stand the test of time as long as I’ve been playing to be able to compete against father-son combinations now,” James said.