NEW YORK – LeBron James was flanked by three members of the team’s security staff, escorting him off the field on Sunday in Detroit when he was sent off for just the second time in his 19-year career.
Shortly after, he received another visitor from the team. Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony stepped off the bench to check on James before returning to his teammates to send him a message: If there was a moment for the Lakers to start looking like the team they are they all thought they were destined to become, no better time than the present.
“I just felt like we all needed to come together, we had to believe in a bigger picture,” Anthony said on a video conference Monday. “And I think at that point, the way I managed to get everyone’s attention at that point, we were looking for something like that. And last night it was just me. . Tomorrow it could be someone else. But by that time last night, it was time for something to be said to get the car to start. We needed it. “
After the team assembled one of the most accomplished rosters in league history over the summer, it’s been a tough road for the Lakers with nearly a quarter of the season on the books. They went winless in the preseason, saw a handful of rotating players get injured, suffered a team-mates showdown in Game 2 of the season, and then came the James-Isaiah Stewart incident in Game 2. of the star after a prolonged absence due to abdominal tension.
James was hit with the first suspension of his career for hitting Stewart. He will serve him in Tuesday’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to go through this, but we needed something like that to get us going,” said Anthony. “We haven’t been tested like this all season, and it was a major, major test that we had last night.”
LA was following the Pistons, a team that entered the day seven games under .500, by 12 on ejection and by 15 to start the fourth quarter before the Lakers came back with a 37-17 advantage. in the final frame to achieve victory. Anthony’s message seemed to resonate.
“He was awesome,” a source from the team present for the group told ESPN. “Handle. Calm. Clear. Kept everyone together. Ultimate Vet.”
He also assisted on the field, scoring 18 on 5-on-8 shots and adding two rebounds and two blocks. The Lakers outscored the Pistons by 13 in the 30 minutes he played.
“Melo was great for us,” coach Frank Vogel said after the game on Sunday. “I can’t say it loud enough. He’s really been a champion for all the causes of what we’re trying to do. The defensive engagement and the membership, to try and play for each other.… He C he was the one who stood up, along with others, to say that we cannot let this turn out to be a loss. For example, we have to go along with this. So thank you to him. “
It was a reminder that Anthony, 37, who joined the Lakers on a minimum veteran contract, still carries some seriousness, even though he’s not the superstar he once was.
“Why did I speak? It’s just, that’s who I am,” Anthony said. “It’s part of what I do, who I am.… I’m a guy who, I don’t say much, but when it’s time for me to talk, it happens, it’s natural. wasn’t something that was premeditated. It was right then, getting everyone together. We got it, and we saw what was going on. And I said this [Sunday] night, the game could have happened, it could have been worse. “
The Lakers hope the worst is over when it comes to the altercation. Vogel said Monday afternoon that the NBA’s investigation into the incident was still open and any other discipline arising from the break-in had not yet been determined.
“They do the talks, they talk to all parties involved, and then they make their decision,” Vogel said. “They are still in this part of the process.”