It was a moment that lasted only a second as LeBron James scuttled out of Staples Center after the Lakers’ first preseason win.
He stepped over to Brandon Ingram, the third-year forward who has the only other locker on the far wall of the room, and gave him a quick embrace, complimented him on his 31 points from that evening’s game, then strode away.
For Ingram, 21, quiet moments like that can mean a lot. It hasn’t been officially settled whether Ingram was intentionally placed next to James, the four-time MVP and three-time champion, but it’s clear Ingram is trying to take advantage. Every word of advice or encouragement from James is precious.
“It makes you want to keep going,” he said. “I don’t think I want to stop here.”
That’s the hope the Lakers have for Ingram, a former No. 2 overall pick who has shown moments of the brilliance the team has seen in him. Even his baskets on this particular Thursday night weren’t his most impressive feat: Four times in the final minute, Kings guard Cameron Reynolds tried to inbound against Ingram, and four times he was rebuffed by Ingram’s 7-foot-3 wingspan.
On the final attempt, Ingram finally managed to corral the ball and zoom down the court in the other direction. The players on the Lakers bench, including James, hooted at the spectacle.