Stephen A. Smith: Reports of LeBron James Refusing to Be Coached Disrespectful

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 31:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Luke Walton talk during a timeout during a 123-120 win over the LA Clippers at Staples Center on January 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Stephen A. Smith has come to the defense of LeBron James following a report the Los Angeles Lakers star doesn't want to be coached by anyone. 

During Friday's episode of First Take, Smith said the "disrespect has gotten ridiculous" when it comes to James:

The topic came up after ESPN's Michael Wilbon reported Tuesday on Pardon The Interruption that Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is being told by people not to move to the Lakers if Luke Walton is fired:

"There are people in southern California right now in that environment telling Doc he doesn't wanna do this. And one of those reasons is simply, LeBron James. He's been told by people—and I know this—LeBron doesn't want to be coached. He's never been coached by someone with that kind of personality, command, authority, acumen, intellect. He's rejected that. So Doc is being reminded of that by people."

Rumors about strife between James and Walton have persisted throughout this season. Lakers president Magic Johnson disputed a November report from ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst that the four-time NBA MVP was calling his own plays and ignoring Walton during games. 

ESPN's Jackie McMullan reported in January on Windhorst's podcast (h/t CBS Sports' Chris Bengel) there was "a lot of tension" in the Lakers' facilities and James' camp wanted the front office to make a coaching change. 

James' first year with the Lakers has become likely the biggest disappointment from the 2018-19 NBA season. They have lost nine of their last 10 games and are 10.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.