LeBron James has been one of the best — if not the best — NBA players for years. He has ultimately used his play on the basketball court for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers to let people know that. However, while we don’t hear quite as many trash-talking stories about James as we do about Michael Jordan, The King also lets people know how good he is with his words. In fact, just recently, James put an inexperienced NBA player in their place with one epic line.
That player was Golden State Warriors guard/forward Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Juan Toscano-Anderson had an interesting path to the NBA
Toscano-Anderson first started playing for the Warriors in 2019-20, but he had an unconventional path to making the NBA.
He averaged 8.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds as a senior for Marquette in 2014-15, but, according to The Undefeated, didn’t even bother entering the 2015 NBA draft.
After college, Toscano-Anderson played professional basketball in Mexico and Venezuela between 2016 and 2018. However, prior to the 2018-19 NBA season, he tried out for the Warriors’ G League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and ended up earning a spot on the squad. Toscano-Anderson then eventually averaged 7.0 points and 6.8 rebounds in 44 games in 2018-19 before taking a big leap production-wise in 2019-20.
In 31 games for Santa Cruz in the G League last season, Toscano-Anderson scored 12.5 points and 9.1 rebounds.
His solid play led to the Warriors calling him up in February 2020. He then averaged 5.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal in 13 games for the Warriors during the 2019-20 campaign before becoming a key rotational player for Golden State in 2020-21. Toscano-Anderson averaged 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 53 games for the Warriors this season. He also shot 40.2% from 3-point range.
LeBron James delivered an epic line of trash talk to the inexperienced NBA player
Toscano-Anderson gained a lot of confidence throughout his first full NBA season this year, especially after the Warriors signed him to a guaranteed contract. So, he was justifiably feeling himself going into the Warriors’ play-in game against James and the Lakers.
“I went into that game like, ‘I belong here, I’m here,'” Toscano-Anderson said on The Ringer’s June 3 episode of the Real Ones podcast, per NBC Sports. “I was starting to gain my own confidence naturally, but then after we played the [Phoenix] Suns a few days before that, Chris Paul came up to me and was like ‘Man, I respect you, I respect dogs, I respect your story, how you got in this league.’ I got words from [Kevin Durant], a lot of guys from around the league, James Johnson.”
Toscano-Anderson’s confidence led to him feeling comfortable enough to talk smack to James.
“I’m mad because I let him score,” he said, per NBC Sports. “I should have fouled him instead of letting him score. But it’s LeBron James, one of the best players in the world. But I’m like ‘I’m here. What’s up? You gotta score on me, you gotta show me.’”
James, though, quickly put the former Marquette star in his place.
“After he scored on the way back down, he was like ‘Man, that was great defense but I’m the best player in the world,” Toscano-Anderson said.
Despite the Warriors coming up short in that game, it was all in good fun for Toscano-Anderson.
“People are going to talk about LeBron James like they talk about Dr. J, Mike, Kareem, Magic, for 30, 40, 50, 60 years,” he said. “So that was fun.”
Is LeBron James still the best player in the NBA?
The biggest takeaway from James’ trash talk is that he supposedly said he’s the “best player in the world.” While that was a well-known fact for years, many are questioning whether that’s still true after the Lakers’ first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns.
That loss, though, isn’t enough to take the title away from James. Not only did he not have Anthony Davis for crucial parts of the series, but James was coming off an injury of his own. He missed action from March 21 through April 28 before playing in two games and then missing six more from May 3 to May 12. James ultimately played in just two more contests for the Lakers before the postseason.
However, had he been healthy, we would have probably seen the James of old. He averaged 25.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.0 assists for the Lakers before going down this year and was coming off a year where he led LA to an NBA championship.
Yes, James is getting older, but if he stays healthy next year and plays at the level he did before his injury, The King still deserves to be called the best player in the world. If he continues to struggle with injuries, or his play declines, though, it may be time for him to give the title up.