LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis explained that his body language during the Lakers’ 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday had everything to do with his team’s struggles and nothing to do with LeBron James’ record-setting night.
“It’s about the game,” Davis said after putting up 23 points and 16 rebounds in the Lakers’ 115-106 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. “I mean, we’re losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game we needed. And I was pissed off that we were losing. It’s that simple. It’s nothing that has to do with Bron. He knows that. Everybody else is outside looking in, it’s their opinion. But I was pissed off that we were losing the game.”
In several cellphone videos from fans in the stands on Tuesday night, Davis can be seen sitting on the bench while the rest of his teammates were standing late in the third quarter on Tuesday as James took a midrange fadeaway jump shot to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
In a still-frame photograph taken of the bench just after James made the shot and celebrated with his hands in the air, several Lakers players are seen smiling and clapping while Davis is on the bench with an unhappy look on his face.
Davis explained that he had just come back to the bench from a trip to the tunnel to let off some steam and was unaware his timing coincided with James going for history at that very moment.
Davis called James to apologize the next day and then again in person at Crypto.com Arena when the team was holding its walkthrough before the Bucks game.
Davis said that on both occasions, James dismissed his concerns and assured him that he understood Davis was simply caught up in the heat of competition.
James’ reaction echoed an exchange he had with Davis during the game that was picked up by the TNT broadcast.
“I love you,” James told Davis. “I’ll just let you know I love you, bro. That’s all I want you to know.”
Davis told reporters he felt bad that the way his body language was interpreted took away from James’ celebration.
Nevertheless, the celebration continued for James with an on-court ceremony Thursday night, with former Laker great James Worthy serving as the emcee before tipoff against the Bucks.
Flanked by his mother, Gloria; wife, Savannah; and three children, Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri, James spoke about how his bond has grown with the LA fanbase in the five years since he came to the team in 2018.
“You guys, over the last five years, have become family to me as well,” James said, addressing the crowd over the public address system. “So thank you to the Laker faithful. You guys are unbelievable. And every night I step on the floor, I understand and I truly have a huge responsibility and understand what it means to represent the Los Angeles Lakers when I step on this floor. So thank you. Thank you so much.”
Abdul-Jabbar was in attendance again on Thursday and said during a pregame news conference that he is “looking forward” to establishing a relationship with James. He heaped praise on James for his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, and also for his excellence on the court.
“I think the different eras of the game, the addition of the clock and finally the 3-point shot, the game has had eras. And LeBron, without a doubt, is the greatest player of his era,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “That era is right behind that of Shaquille [O’Neal] and Michael Jordan.
“There are people who dominate the game and there are people who captivate everybody’s imagination. I think that’s one thing Michael Jordan did. Everybody wanted to be him, do what he did. I think the reason that they have sports bars with all of those TVs is so that people can go in there and argue like this. Because we’re not going to find out.”