Bennedict Mathurin Backs Up Bold Comment, Outplays LeBron James

Bennedict Mathurin, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

Normally a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers in November wouldn’t draw much attention. But, Monday night’s matchup between the teams at crypto.Com Arena had a little added juice to it because it was the first time that rookie Bennedict Mathurin would be facing off against LeBron James.

What is so special about a rookie facing off against James, who has faced off against hundreds of players in his career? Well, that is because of what Mathurin said during a pre-draft interview before the Pacers selected him 6th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Mathurin’s quote in the Washington Post went viral as he expressed just how confident of a basketball player he was. His first game against James was the one that he was looking forward to the most as a professional because he wanted to show how good of a player he was.

“A lot of people say he’s great,” Mathurin said. “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.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: LeBron James, Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

He has since cleared that quote up, as he meant no disrespect and figured people would misunderstand what he said. But, Mathurin was just expressing how confident he was in his own skill set.

“I think he’s the best player to ever play the game. … But me just coming into the league, I won’t say anybody’s better than me. That’s me being confident.”

While some young players would be left in awe playing against James for the first time, Mathurin live up to the expectations that he set for himself. He was a big reason that the Pacers came away with a 116-115 victory on the back of fellow rookie, Andrew Nembhard, knocking down a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

LATEST NBA NEWS: LeBron James, Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

The Arizona product finished the game with 23 points off the bench, adding eight rebounds, one assist and one steal, finishing the game with a +7. He certainly backed up his bold statement, going toe-to-toe with the future Hall of Famer, as James finished the game with 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal.

While performing on the same level as James was certainly an impressive feat for Mathurin, the most important part was getting the win. His performance wouldn’t have meant as much without the victory, which pushed the Pacers to 12-8 on the season.

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