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“This man doesn’t work hard all the time” - Lebron James’ work ethic was once questioned by an assistant coach

Phil Handy initially thought LeBron James didn't give his full effort all the time until he witnessed Zero Dark Thirty 23 in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and assistant coach Phil Handy

LeBron James and Phil Handy

When all is said and done, LeBron James will go down as one of the best to do it. His body of work speaks for itself. You could argue about his finals record or questionable clutch genes, but one thing is for sure: the man works hard. Still, once upon a time, an assistant coach thought otherwise.

“This man doesn’t work hard all the time”

Assistant coach Phil Handy has worked with LeBron for many years. They’ve won championships together, went to the Finals, and lost a few as well. It’s safe to say these two enjoyed a professional bond over the years, but it was different when the two just started working together.

I remember as a coach I was like, ‘Man, this dude don’t play hard all the time.’ I was saying that to myself. And you know, this was like Year 14 for LeBron, something like that. We went to the regular season and I eventually told him later, ‘Nah, that’s not it.’ The playoffs started. Man, that Zero Dark Thirty-23, after Game 3 in the playoffs, I went to him to apologize,explained Handy

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Handy was converted after watching playoff James. Zero Dark Thirty-23 was a persona used by LeBron come playoffs time. He switches off on social media to focus on the postseason. And that usually meant bad news for the rest of the teams in the playoffs. When LeBron was locked in, it was virtually impossible to stop him.

Is LeBron James slacking in some games?

The King has been a recipient of bashing in recent years as videos of him not running back on defense have been uploaded on social media. The truth is James’ age is starting to show, and he’s not the same athletic freak he was in his younger years.

At this point in his life, James’ isn’t aiming for things for himself. His priority is to prolong his career so that he could have a chance to play against or with his sons Bronny and Bryce. Individual numbers or maybe even titles wouldn’t matter as much. Preserving his body so that he could play longer would be the ultimate goal, and as such, there would be games where he may seem slacking on offense or defense.

The bashers could say whatever, but James earned the right to slack at this point of his carer. He’s been carrying his teams almost by himself to the promised land. If he chooses to prioritize his health or take some load management, then he should. The King’s place in history is already cemented, and a few lazy plays won't change that. 

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