Towering tandem may take L.A. Lakers to NBA championship

Fred Jeter | 9/24/2020, 6 p.m.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis may be the most entertaining one-two combination since rock and roll.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis

LeBron James and Anthony Davis may be the most entertaining one-two combination since rock and roll.

Now, we’ll learn if the talented twosome can bust the right moves to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA championship.

If the Lakers can “hit it” and defeat the Denver Nuggets to reach the NBA Finals, much will depend on James, 35, among the greatest of all time, and Davis, 27, perhaps the top star of the future.

After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets in the NBA Western Conference playoffs, the Southern Californians are now matched with party-crashing, upset-minded Denver in the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers won Game One 126-114 on Sept. 18. The 6-foot-10 Davis had 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while 6-foot-8 James chipped in 15 points, six rebounds and a whopping 12 assists.

The Lakers went up 2-0 with a 105-103 win over the Nug- gets on Sept. 20. Davis had 31 points and nine rebounds, while James added 26 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

The winner of the conference finals will advance to meet the survivor of the Miami Heat-Boston Celtics Eastern Conference finale.

Some background on the duo:

The beginnings: Born in Akron, Ohio, James is the son of Gloria Marie James, who was 16 at the time, and Anthony McClelland, who played no role in his son’s formative years.

Davis grew up on the South Side of Chicago, the son of Anthony Davis Sr., 6-foot-3, and Erainer Davis, 6-foot-1.

High school: James became a teenage national celebrity at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High, often appearing on national cable telecasts.

From sixth grade on, Davis attended Perspectives Charter School, a member of the Chicago Public Schools League.

College: James made an early verbal commitment to Ohio State University, but then opted for the NBA draft.

Davis played one season for the University of Kentucky, earning consensus 2012 National Player of the Year honors and leading the Wildcats to the NCAA title.

Draft: James was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.

Davis was the first overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets, now Pelicans, in 2012.

NBA résumés: James’ worksheet is so bright you almost need a welder’s mask to read it. For starters, he is a three-time NBA champion, three-time Finals MVP, 13-time All-Star, three-time All-Star MVP and four-time NBA Player of the Year.

With New Orleans, Davis was a seven-time All-Star, a single All-Star MVP, a four-time All-NBA pick, two All-Defensive selections and three-time blocked shots leader. About all that’s missing is the team championships.

L.A. arrival: James opted out of his Cleveland contract in 2018 and signed with the Lakers as an unrestricted free agent on July 9, 2018.

The Pelicans traded Davis to Los Angeles in June 2019 for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball, plus three first round draft choices.

2020 report: The Lakers were 52-19 during the regular season, the best in the West. After 10 playoff games, Davis is averaging 27.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists. James has averaged 26.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists.

No one’s perfect: For years, James wore a headband that hid a receding hairline. Hair restoration treatment has helped restore his more youthful look.

In addition to his extraordinary skills on court, Davis draws attention for his famous “uni-brow.” He refuses to shave it.

History lesson: The Lakers are renowned for their potent pairs.

Hall of famers Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West led the Lakers to the 1972 title. When together, they posted a regular season record of 214-74 and 43-25 in the playoffs.

Two more hall of famers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, led Los Angeles to five championships in 10 seasons, a 506-179 record in the regular season and a 110-47 mark in the playoffs.

Then came Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, arguably the best guard-big man combination in the annals of the game. The Lakers won three NBA crowns in their eight seasons together.

Now it’s “Bron’s” and “AD’s” turn.

NBA Finals are pro basketball’s version of the Big Dance. It’s time to see how the Lakers’ towering tandem kicks up its heels. The band is warming up.