David Wesley: ‘LeBron Is A Basketball Chess Master’

David Wesley was LeBron James’ teammate for one year – in 2006-07, when the Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals. At the time, Wesley was 36. He had been in the league for more than decade. He had seen and heard and witnessed a lot.

But he hadn’t seen or heard or witnessed anything quite like James, then 22.

“I didn’t know him behind the scenes – his competitive nature, his knowledge of the game, his way to break things down and change things on the fly,” Wesley said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “He’s really good at dissecting defenses. I remember going through a shoot-around – and I can’t remember the team we were playing – but it was one of the big stars in the game, and we were going to do X. And LeBron came and said, ‘Well, if you did that to me, this is what I would do. I think we should do this (instead).’ And we changed it because of what he said.

“Somebody like myself, I’ve never been first, second or third option,” Wesley continued. “So I get my job is different than his. But to have that kind of insight and understanding of the game – and again, this was eight years ago. He came into the league with a head on his shoulders that put him – even if he didn’t have that talent – it put him above because he understood how to break things down, how defenses play and what he would do.

“He could tell you every play they run, he knew every play they run and he knew all of our plays. He could run any position on the floor because he knew all the positions and how to get people in place. You don’t see that a whole lot in bigger guys. Forwards, they know their positions. A lot of guys in the league know their position. If you put them in another position, they would struggle. LeBon was way ahead of the curve in that sense that he’s a gamer.

“This is not going to be an easy series for Golden State. I hope its a good seven-game series and the best team wins.”

While any coach would love to have James, Damon Amendolara wondered what it must be like for David Blatt, especially as a first-year NBA coach. Might having someone like James – someone with such a vast basketball IQ – be a bit intimidating in some ways?

“Well, here’s the thing,” Wesley said. “You’re looking at a great. Not a good. Not a guy who goes out and gets number and loses everything. You’re looking at a great – a guy who goes out and gets numbers, whatever is necessary, the style of Magic Johnson: ‘If you need me to go get 40, I’ll get you 40. If you need me to get 15 assists, I’ll get 15 assists. And, oh, by the way, I’m going to have 10+ rebounds.’ When you’re dealing with a guy like that, if you check your ego and listen, he’s learning form LeBron just as much as LeBron may be learning from him. So when (James) says something as a star player – and not just your star player, but the star player of the league – you’d be cutting your neck off if you don’t consider most of what he says.

“Because like I said, at 22, he had a grasp then of what teams do, how they play, what plays they run, what options are coming,” Wesley continued. “He studies and he’s into all this and watches and lives basketball. So in that respect, he’s like another coach. He’s not coaching the team, but his insight – the fact that he’s on the floor – you got to give that some consideration. And I’m sure David Blatt has figured that out, that, You know what? If it trust this guy, he’s going to get me to an NBA Finals. Here they are. He might get him a championship in his first season.”

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