LeBron James equates he and Rajon Rondo to Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp or Ray Lewis and Ed Reed

It’s football season and the sport is on the minds of more than one Laker these days.

During media day, Rajon Rondo used a football metaphor to explain LeBron James’ role for the Lakers defensively. He likened James to a safety or a linebacker calling out where everyone else needed to be defensively.

On Sunday after the Lakers’ first shootaround of the year, James took the metaphor a step further.

“You try to be the second line of defense behind him,” James said, referring to Rondo. “I try to be the Derrick Brooks to his Warren Sapp, he is the guy right there in the front and he is going to get in there and then if guys are able to break the first line, I try to be that Derrick Brooks right there, that second line of defense. Or that Ray Lewis to the Ed Reed. So at the end of the day, we want to protect each other. With Rondo being the point of attack, it is my job as the safety or linebacker to protect him.”


Brooks is a Hall of Fame linebacker who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Sapp, a Hall of Fame defensive tackle, playing in front of him. Lewis, a linebacker who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, played for the Ravens with safety Ed Reed, who is a 2019 Hall of Fame nominee.

One part of playing defense that is difficult to encourage in young players is the need for players to be vocal. That’s an area where James and Rondo are setting a tone for the team.

“I’m so used to doing that myself so it’s kind of refreshing,” Rondo said. “I don’t have to talk every possession on the floor because I have someone that can do the same thing that you can obviously trust.”

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli