LeBron James made his first statement on the United Center court Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls, producing his third consecutive triple-double for the Lakers.
Then James made another bold proclamation after he had 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, doing so on social media and directing it at his naysayers.
His tweet began “#WashedKing,” which mocked the notion that he is washed up and came on the heels of the Lakers tweeting that James was “the first Laker with three straight triple-doubles in 32 years. All hail the king.”
James became the first Laker to accomplish that feat since Magic Johnson in 1987. James first did it in December 2017, while with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In the Lakers’ locker room, after they had beaten the Bulls 118-112 for their sixth consecutive win and third in a row on the road, James talked about the triple-doubles that started in Dallas on Friday night, carried over to San Antonio on Sunday night and then to Chicago.
“Just trying to be in the right place at the right time,” James said. “Being a triple-threat on the floor. I trust my teammates to make shots. I just try to put the ball on time and on target. They’ve been doing that.
“Defensively, trying to rebound as much as I can, even though I’m playing the point-guard position. And then scoring. Just trying to read the defense, pick my spots, and just trying to be aggressive.
“It comes with team success for me. Triple-doubles means absolutely nothing to me if it’s not in a win. This is three wins [in a row] for us, and I feel pretty happy about the way we performed.”
In many ways, James was forced to carry the Lakers in the first half even while they were falling into a 19-point hole.
His star running mate, Anthony Davis, was in foul trouble all game and was struggling with his offense, finishing with 15 points on six-for-15 shooting in his return to play in his hometown of Chicago.
But James was there again, adding this triple-double to the 39 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds against the Mavericks and 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds against the Spurs.
“He’s a dominant player in this league and for him to have that type of versatility, doing everything, and that’s not even talking about his defense,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s working extremely hard on the defensive end. And middle linebacking for us and quarterbacking. And to give that type of effort on the defensive end and still carry that kind of load offensively, it’s very special.”
James, who leads the NBA with 11.2 assists per game, had five assists in the fourth quarter when the Lakers were putting the finishing touches on the Bulls.
One of his fancier passes came in the quarter when James drove into the teeth of the defense, forcing the Bulls to collapse on him and allowing him to whip a pass to Quinn Cook for a three-pointer.
“Obviously, we’re witnessing greatness on a daily basis and all of us, we just want to consume as much as possible,” Cook said about James. “He gives everything he has to us every single day. He’s the first one in the gym. He has a relationship with everybody on the team.
“He’s just the ultimate team player, the ultimate team leader. He gives us everything he has night in and night out.”