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LeBron James gives Warriors’ rookie Jordan Bell a rude awakening to physicality of the NBA

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Jordan Bell: “I just played the best defense of my life. It didn’t matter.”

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I’m almost as excited this year about Jordan Bell as I was last year about Pat McCaw. Well, if you know me, you know that’s a lie. Nothing will ever, ever approach the level of bromantic feelings I have for #McCawllStar, but — I think Jordan Bell has a chance to be a heavily impactful player on the NBA level.

That being said, guarding Joe Smoseph Whomever in the NCAA tournament, and guarding world-ender-and-still-the-most-feared-player-in-the-NBA LeBron James are two entirely different propositions.

Recently, LeBron James, Draymond Green, and a bunch of other NBA players took part in a summer pick-up game in Los Angeles. In Bell’s own words, he was, uh, surprised by LeBron’s game. Of course he’s never seen anything like it before, but it’s illuminating to hear it out of his own mouth.

A few days ago, Bell described the encounter to CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole, saying, among other things (seriously, check out the original article):

“It’s crazy how big he is, how quick he is for his size and how smart he is. He was standing straight up, and I’m thinking he can’t go by me if he’s standing straight up. I’m in a good defensive stance. He’s not crouching.

“But there he goes. I’m not going to say he got by me, but I didn’t realize he was so quick. For him to be standing straight up, there’s no way he should be able to move that fast.”

[...]

“I thought I did a pretty good job on him, but he obviously hit some shots. But he would get on the block, and I’m containing him, not letting him back me down, and he would fade away from the block to the 3-point line -- and make it. And I just played the best defense of my life. It didn’t matter.”

“Draymond was on my team, and he was just like, ‘Look, you can’t do nothing about that. Just worry about the next play.’ But he also said if LeBron is taking those types of shots, that’s what we want because we’re going to make more 3s than he makes 2s.”

I can only imagine what that must have felt like. Bell is only 22 years old. He has literally grown up watching LeBron James play. For reference: Jordan Bell was eight years old when LeBron was drafted by the Cavaliers.

Side note: Lol, and now I feel old AF. I’m only a year younger than LeBron. Ugh. The sad thing about getting older is that the sports dudes stay the same age. I’m always gonna be rooting for guys who are like 23 or 24 or whatever, but the difference between my age and theirs will only increase. And yeah, duh, this is not a mind-bending realization, but I think it is something that every sports fan realizes at some point in their adult life. When you’re a kid, you get so used to looking up to these guys. Especially in the NBA, where they are huge, you tend to think of them as adults, or that they have their lives together or something. Again, that’s the danger of celebrity in our culture, and the danger of projecting success and stability onto human being who you do not know; but for me, LeBron James will be the last NBA star who was actually older than me.

And now, Jordan Bell gets to have his mind blown as well.

“It’s different than what you see on TV. It’s waaaay different,” he told Monte Poole.

Yup, welcome to the NBA young fella.