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#pounditSaturday, November 26, 2022

Pacers rookie has surprising challenge for LeBron James

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of NBA rookies are open about their admiration for LeBron James. Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin is taking a very different approach.

Mathurin, the sixth overall pick in Thursday’s draft, made clear that he’s looking forward to testing himself against James. In fact, prior to the draft, Mathurin even said in an interview he needs to see James prove himself.

“A lot of people say he’s great,” Mathurin said, via Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. “I want to see how great he is. I don’t think anybody is better than me. He’s going to have to show me he’s better than me.”

Mathurin does not seem to mean any disrespect here, for whatever it’s worth. If anything, the comment is similar to one an NFL rookie made about Tom Brady a year and a half ago.

It’s easy to laugh this off and dismiss it as cockiness, but James himself would probably admire the ambition and determination. Mathurin will almost certainly get a rude wake-up call about how good James is, but that self-belief should serve the Pacers rookie well over his career.


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