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LeBron James says Jared Dudley’s decision to retire hurts

LeBron James greets Lakers teammate Jared Dudley during an NBA playoff game Sept. 10, 2020.
LeBron James greets Lakers teammate Jared Dudley during a playoff game Sept. 10, 2020. Dudley announced Tuesday that he’s retiring to join the Dallas Mavericks’ coaching staff.
(Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

Jared Dudley called it quits on his 14-year NBA career Tuesday, confirming a report that he is indeed exchanging his headband for a clipboard to become an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks.

One person who didn’t take the news well was LeBron James.

James took to Twitter to congratulate Dudley on his career but wasn’t thrilled he wouldn’t be playing alongside or against the veteran forward next season.

“Congrats to my guy if this true, which [it] probably is! But man!! F---,” James tweeted. In another tweet a short time later, James wrote: “Excuse my language but still one hurt!! For many reasons that you wouldn’t understand.”

Perhaps we do, LeBron. Dudley wasn’t a statistical star or the flashiest of players, but he did give the Lakers a veteran voice even if he was limited to 12 games last season because of a torn right medial collateral ligament. He was a role player, and he played that role well whether it was on the bench or on the floor, as James pointed out in January.

With praise like that, it’s no wonder Dudley is following former Lakers assistant Jason Kidd to Dallas, where he’ll work alongside Sparks standout Kristi Toliver on Kidd’s staff. With the 36-year-old Dudley coming off a serious injury and not in the Lakers’ plans for 2021-22, it only makes sense he would embark on the next phase of his basketball journey.

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Dudley, who won an NBA title with the Lakers in 2020, played in 57 games with the team. He averaged 7.3 points per game in 904 career games.


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