D’Angelo Russell was such a big LeBron James fan that he cried the first time he saw him play

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was such a big fan of LeBron James that he cried the first time that he saw the four-time champion play live.

Now, Russell is teammates with James on the Lakers and chasing an NBA title with him.

“Russell grew up idolizing James,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin wrote. “So much so that Russell admitted earlier this month that he cried the first time he saw James play live when he was a kid. His father took him and his older brother, Antonio ‘Tone’ Russell, from Louisville to Indianapolis to see James’ Cleveland Cavaliers play the Indiana Pacers.”

It’s pretty amazing for D’Angelo Russell to go from idolizing James and his game to becoming his teammate – especially since the point guard has been an integral part of the Lakers’ success this season.

“When I was a kid and I’d shoot those jump shots, I’d say, ‘Jordan! Kobe!'” Tone Russell told ESPN. “He was coming through dunking socks on a hanger basketball goal in the room, like, ‘I’m Bron!'”

Los Angeles acquired D’Angelo Russell at the trade deadline last season, allowing him to team up with James for the first time in his NBA career. A former No. 2 overall pick by the Lakers, Russell also returned home to the franchise that brought him into the NBA.

Los Angeles made the Western Conference Finals last season, but the team is still in search of an NBA title with D’Angelo Russell and James both on the roster.

This season, D’Angelo Russell is averaging 18.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from 3-point range. The Lakers guard has been great since being brought back into the starting lineup in mid-January.

The left-handed guard is averaging 22.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game since returning to the starting lineup on Jan. 13 (26 games).

James, who is in his 21st season in the NBA, has inspired a generation of players, and he’s stuck around in the NBA for long enough to play with some of them during his career. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer has shown no sign of slowing down this season, becoming the first player in the history of the league to score 40,000 points in his career.

Overall, the 20-time All-Star is averaging 25.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game, while shooting 53.0 percent from the field and an impressive 40.7 percent from 3. The 3-point percentage is the highest of James’ NBA career.

Hopefully for the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell can help his childhood idol bring a second title to Los Angeles during his time with the team. James and the Lakers last made – and won – the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season in the Orlando, Fla. bubble.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.