Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has been the subject of some negative rhetoric lately, but he says he isn't letting it bother him.
The player, who watched his new team struggle to gain a foothold after his move from Cleveland in the summer, is now leading a resurgence that has seen the side take their record to 15-9 and climb up to fifth in the Western Conference standings.
There has been some chatter regarding LeBron's workload as a Laker as of late, while Bleacher Report recently published an article filled with quotes from various players explaining why it would be difficult to play with him. But the 15-time All-Star insists he's not paying attention to the criticism and is simply looking to make those around him better.
"No, for what? I'm past the [taking things] personal stage," he said after his 42-point outing against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, per ESPN. "I can do whatever. I can have a huge workload, I can have a not so huge workload. ... It doesn't matter for me. What's most important is seeing my teammates make huge shots in the fourth quarter. ... That's what's most important to me. I can care less about the narrative about me. It doesn't matter. I'm a staple in this game."
Lakers head coach Luke Walton, for one, believes that James should be in the conversation for the MVP award this season.
"Well, he's obviously in that top group," Walton said after the win over San Antonio. "It's early. We count on LeBron to do a lot for us and there's a lot of responsibility that comes with the type of player he is. And I've been very impressed with how he handles it and how he continues to work and make winning the ultimate thing.
"For somebody of his talent that's won as much as he has, for winning to still be the ultimate prize for him, I think really speaks to him and how he is and the way that he works and preps and the way that he just carries himself.
"So where he is right now [in the MVP race]? That's too early to say, but he's absolutely having that type of season."
Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant was one of the players interviewed by Bleacher Report this week and was quoted saying that a player like Kawhi Leonard should stay away from LeBron.
"I would love to see the whole transcript of what was asked of him, the context it was asked of him, why it was asked and the whole thing," James said. "So I'm not gonna comment on it because I don't know the whole thing. That would be stupid on my part. I'm a veteran."
James' teammate Tyson Chandler had a few words in there as well, but the center claims his comments were taken out of context.
"What I said was, when you have a great player like LeBron, I said I've only played with one other player like that, and like Dirk, you have to make it about them because of how talented they are and where they can lead you," he explained. "And of course all of that wasn't put in. It was just, 'When you have a player like LeBron you got to make it about LeBron,' or something like that. However it read. But that wasn't the full statement."
What This Means
LeBron has been under the microscope even before he was in the NBA, so such scrutiny is nothing new to him.
He's also quite used to carrying a team on his back and that was made especially evident when he hauled the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last season. Of course, another ring will silence the critics for a while, but getting it certainly won't be easy.