Phil Handy Describes LeBron James’ Playoff Mode, Team-First Mentality (Exclusive)

NBA fans can’t wait for the 2019-2020 season to resume. Their dream will soon turn into a reality. NBA players will be able to finish their season at the end of July in Orlando, Florida. The Los Angeles Lakers are considered frontrunners to win the title. Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy went on the Battle for LA Podcast and talked LeBron James, the team and their way to the top.

“My mindset has always been that I’ve been very blessed to be in the last five Finals,” Handy said. “But if you ask anybody, you ask Bron; there are no guarantees. The only thing we can ask for is the opportunity and the team to be good enough to compete for a championship.

“It felt good to be back together. Me and Bron spent four years together in Cleveland and coming here to L.A. and being a part of [Frank] Vogel’s staff trying to help this team get back to a place of prominence; it’s been a great season.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing with the way things went, but you can only ask for the opportunity to compete for it, and I think we are really pleased that our team responded the way and they competed the way they were. It’s just one of those things that you try to leave it out there every night and yourself the best opportunity you can to hoist that trophy.”

Phil Handy has great words of LeBron James

Handy has already been coaching LeBron in Cleveland. King James changes his style when it comes to hitting the playoffs.

The assistant coach talked about the Lakers team and their success before the suspension.

“It’s one of those things, man,” Handy said. “One thing I know about Bron is after the All-Star break, he would really start gearing up for that playoff gear that I was talking to you about. You can see a shift in his demeanor, and once he does that, the team follows. You kind of see that the team was playing well together, playing hard, making improvements.

“Just being a more locked in, a little bit more focused on gameplans and trying to give more of an effort for longer periods of time. I think you just saw a team that’s trying to find a good rhythm. You still have some ups and downs, but they were just trying to find a rhythm of working where we push ourselves to try to be as consistent as possible as we start to prepare for the playoffs.

“It was one of those things where the whole season I felt like those guys were getting better every day, understanding each other, learn how to play with each other. They weren’t perfect. We still had a lot of games where teams really gave us a hard time. But we were trying to find a way to just continue to be consistent and grow on both sides of the ball.”

The Lakers have a great chance

Rob Pelinka built his team following the departure of Magic Johnson. This was followed by so many questions.

“You’ve got to give it to Rob [Pelinka], the front office, and Jeanie [Buss] for a great job in trying to put the right pieces around and building the right team,” Handy said. “Obviously, Frank has done a great job as the head coach, and giving is the directives and laying out his vision. He does a great job in communicating with the players and keeping them engaged and involved. And really, I just feel like everybody’s moving in the same direction. Everybody was there with the same goal in mind, and that was to compete for a championship.

“There’s a great collection with some younger talent, veteran talent, championship talent. It was just a great mix of everything. [Rajon] Rondo was removed from the Finals for so many years and wants to go back. Avery Bradley wants to compete for a championship. Danny Green has won under his belt. Jared Dudley is a savvy vet that wants to compete. Quinn Cook has championship DNA. Obviously LeBron. AD wants to get to that level. I think the motivation for all the guys on the team is everybody’s just willing to do whatever it takes—JaVale McGee champion. Dwight Howard wants to get there. Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma – everybody is just really in the mindset of, ‘What do we have to do to be successful?’ And we try to move into that space – front office, players, and coaches. Everybody is moving in the same direction.”

The road to a title

The Lakers have an incredible chemistry. LeBron and Davis make the best duo in the NBA.

“It doesn’t always happen,” Handy said. “And again, even with that, we’re going to have bad days. Even though they click, I think what happened is those guys that they genuinely like each other away from basketball.

“You start with that. I think that’s a great thing when the guys actually like each other. You’re gonna have some moments. You might lose a game or guys may not play as well. In those times, you’re gonna get tested. But what they’ve done is they locked into each other.

Bron is a great team-first guy. When your best player carries that mentality, it’s infectious and contagious. AD is a great team guy. Rondo is a great team guy. You start talking about all these pieces. We don’t have guys on our team that are anti-team. Those guys, man, you see the camaraderie they have on and off the court, and I think that leads to them not being afraid to hold each other accountable in different scenarios. It’s not something that happens all the time, but it’s about getting the right personalities and the right people to fit into making your team complete.”