That’s what LeBron James showed Zion Williamson as he dropped a season-high 40 points and helped the Los Angeles Lakers to a resounding 118-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Staples Center on Wednesday (AEDT).
James vs. Williamson was sold as the present vs. the future, and while the New Orleans rookie was again impressive with 29 points, it was the 35-year-old star on the other team who showed how far he still has to go.
Watch the 2019/20 NBA Season with ESPN on KAYO. Up to up to 7 LIVE games every week! New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
In the 56th game of the regular season, James, in his 17th year, could have been forgiven for just going through the motions. But he wasn’t going to do that after a week’s worth of promotion pitting him, a four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion, against a rookie, who has played just 13 games.
James knows Williamson is coming. But it’s still his show for now.
“The kid’s special,” James said of Williamson post-game. “We all know that. Every game is going to be another opportunity for him to get better and a learning experience for him.
“But in today’s game, when it’s a track race, it’s a fast pace, it’s high tempo; it fits his game perfectly. And the way that they play fits his game perfectly … but the kid is special, man.
“They’ve got a good one in him.”
James had 15 at the half, and stacked up another 25 in the second as the Lakers (44-12) stayed five games clear atop the Western Conference. Los Angeles is now 18-0 when James scores 30+ points.
Former Laker, Brandon Ingram, topscored for the Pelicans; the All-Star, still just 22-years-old, putting up 34 points.
The Pelicans (25-33) are chasing the postseason; 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who are in the eighth seed.
The two teams will play again on Monday in a regular season series that could be a playoffs preview if New Orleans can sneak into the 8th seed.