After almost being out of the NBA because of his popularity and frequency of appearance on the Shaqting A Fool, JaVale McGee's career took a positive turn in the last couple of years. While appearing on the Club Shay Shay podcast, he opened up about the problems Shaqtin A Fool did to his career and reflected on his experience playing with LeBron James and why that was an essential aspect of his NBA career.
McGee had the opportunity to play with both Steph Curry and LeBron James and won a championship with both of them but admitted he enjoyed playing for the Los Angeles Lakers a bit more because he had a more impactful role on the team. He admits that even though the Warriors were a tremendous opportunity that resurrected his career, his time with the Lakers meant more to him because individually, he did more for that team than everywhere else where he previously played in his career.
I enjoyed playing with LeBron the first year I was on the Lakers. I enjoyed playing with LeBron the first year on the Lakers because I was the starting center. I had my career-high 30 and 20 game, and I had a career-high in points that year. I enjoyed succeeding. I didn't enjoy not playing a lot in Golden State, but I enjoyed winning, and I enjoyed hanging out with these guys. People forget I was the starting center on a team that was winning all year. I definitely enjoyed that first year with the Lakers.
JaVale McGee, via Club Shay Shay
Playing for the Lakers provided JaVale with the opportunity to witness LeBron's greatness firsthand, and interestingly enough, he compared him to Bill Russell. LeBron has made a reputation for himself for having tremendous basketball IQ, just like Russell, who often used various his intellect to get the best out of the opposing players. JaVale describes LeBron as a player-coach because he orchestrates the offense and puts himself in a role of a floor general for his squad. On the other hand, Russell had a different role on his team, primarily focused on defense, but his voice was always heard since he was the leader everyone else followed.
LeBron is pretty great, and you can't really say nothing about that. I used to hear that Bill Russell was a player coach one year, and I was like, how is that a thing. But when I went to the Lakers, I understood how a player could be a player-coach. It's not only playing the game because when LeBron is playing the game, but he is also thinking the game too. He is low-key thinking for two other players. Like you need to be there or you need to be there, we need to do this if we are going to win this series. We need to change this. He is a major part of that. I definitely think he is more of a player-coach than just a player when it comes to the cerebral part of the player.
JaVale McGee, via Club Shay Shay
JaVale is not the first player to compliment LeBron, with several of his former teammates said LeBron has a fantastic combination of a high basketball IQ, pure talent, and physical attributes. His impact on every team he plays for is undeniable, and all those playoffs and NBA Finals appearances are a testament to his consistency and dominance in the league. JaVale saw it firsthand and admits that playing with LeBron made many things easier for him, enabling him to have the best individual season of his NBA career.