By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis said mutual respect was key to helping him click with new team mate LeBron James this season as the duo have vaulted the Lakers to the top of the Western Conference standings.
The six-times All-Star left the New Orleans Pelicans to join forces with James in the offseason and their instant chemistry has quickly transformed the storied franchise, which has fallen on hard times in recent years, into title contenders.
Davis said appreciation for each other’s unique talents has been a big factor.
“We’re both students of the game and we studied each other for several years,” he told Reuters at the launch of his new line of lime and jalapeno Ruffles potato chips on Tuesday.
“Me and LJ have been like yin and yang, peanut butter and jelly. Well, he said peanut butter and banana, so we’re not completely there yet,” the 26-year-old said with a laugh.
“But we’ve been able to grow throughout the year so far and it has been nothing but fun.”
Davis said moving into the much larger Los Angeles sports market hasn’t phased him and that he is just trying to stay in the moment.
“It’s still basketball to me. I’m still able to do some of the things I was able to do in New Orleans.
“I guess the market is bigger, the lights are probably a little brighter, but for me individually, I’m still just playing basketball.”
Davis said the tailbone injury he suffered this month that has kept him out of the lineup for the last three games is healing and he hopes to return to the court soon.
After Wednesday’s night’s home game against the Orlando Magic the team will embark on an eight-day, five-game road trip, where the 33-7 Lakers will face some of the Eastern Conference’s top squads.
Given his ability to dominate in the paint and play lock-down defense, Davis’ health will be critical if the Lakers hope to win their first NBA championship since 2010.
“I’m day-to-day,” he said.
“I’m feeling good and getting better. Taking steps in the right direction,” he said. “As long as I keep moving forward and not backwards, I’ll be fine.”
(Additional reporting by Phil O’Connor in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond)