LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma shrug off speculation of rift after trainer's comments

LeBron isn't concerned about Kuzma's trainer's comments (0:36)

LeBron James says he has talked with Kyle Kuzma about Kuzma's trainer's comments. LeBron adds that it's nothing new that people use his name to gain notoriety. (0:36)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- LeBron James says Kyle Kuzma approached him to squash the growing speculation about his and his trainer Clint Parks' social media activity following the Los Angeles Lakers' Christmas Day loss to the L.A. Clippers.

In his posts, Parks had lauded Clippers star Kawhi Leonard at the expense of James, and Kuzma himself later posted an ambiguous message that some took as affirmation of Parks' opinion, a correlation the Lakers power forward denied Saturday.

James said he's used to this sort of thing by now.

"Kuz came to me yesterday at practice and told me what was going on and that was it," James said before shootaround Saturday morning in advance of the Lakers' game against the Trail Blazers. "I really don't care for someone's trainer or whatever the case may be. Everyone can have their own opinion.

"And any time someone wants to get some notoriety they can throw my name in and people are going to pick it up. That's why you're asking me about it, because my name was in it. I've never met the guy. I don't know the guy. I could [not] care less about the guy. Whatever the case may be. I wish him the best."

Parks, posting to his Instagram story under his handle keolanakealoha, wrote on Thursday, "Watching Kawhi highlights from yesterday. NOBODY wants to speak on how sharp his skill set is compared to Lebrons. It's clear who's really in the LAB and who isn't. Let me hear the excuses I'm on vacation I got nothing but time."

Parks also posted a photo of James standing next to Leonard and wrote the caption "Turn the film on somebody was dodging SMOKE yesterday and it wasn't Kawhi." He accompanied the post with a shaka hand emoji and a checkered flag emoji, which was likely a reference to the late L.A. hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle's song "Victory Lap."

Parks did not immediately return ESPN's request for comment.

Leonard had a game-high 35 points in the Clippers' 111-106 win on Christmas to improve to 2-0 against the Lakers this season. He shot 11-for-19 from the field (5-for-7 from 3) with 12 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal. James scored 23 points on 9-for-24 shooting (2-for-12 from 3) with 10 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.

Kuzma then tweeted early Friday afternoon, "Call a spade a spade" along with a shrug emoji. Many fans online interpreted Kuzma's since-deleted tweet as an affirmation of Parks' position on Leonard vs. James.

Kuzma flatly denied his tweet had anything to do with his trainer's opinion.

"No," Kuzma said Saturday, speaking to a small group of reporters in the lobby of the team hotel after shootaround. "If you follow me, you see I tweet random things all the time. It had nothing [to do with Parks' posts], no correlation. I didn't even see what he said at first. Obviously you guys see, I tweet things all the time. So definitely not about that. Why would I even do that? Makes no sense."


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Kuzma said he and James are "more than good" in their relationship as they move forward.

"I just told him that I can't control what another man says," Kuzma said. "Obviously I don't feel that way. Everybody knows that me and LeBron have a great relationship, and [we] left it at that. Can't control another man's mouth and what they say, so we left it at that."

Kuzma said he has not spoken to Parks about the posts. When asked if he would continue to train with Parks, who has also trained Leonard in the past, Kuzma said: "I mean, I don't know. It's a private conversation. It's not really a conversation to have with you guys."

Kuzma, the lone holdover from the Lakers' young core that was traded to New Orleans to acquire Anthony Davis in the offseason, was the first Lakers player to reach out to James via FaceTime after the three-time champion announced his decision to join L.A. in the summer of 2018.

He says his relationship with James has only grown since then.

"I mean, it's great," Kuzma said. "When you're around people for multiple years, you get to know them."

Kuzma said he wasn't even aware of Parks' posts when he tweeted Friday afternoon shortly before practice. He did not reveal the intended meaning of his tweet.

"Well, I feel certain type of ways all the time when I tweet things," Kuzma said. "Go back to all my tweets. I tweet all the time about things -- things that happen in my personal life that I shouldn't have to talk about with people."

Indeed, since he deleted the spade tweet, Kuzma has quote-tweeted presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to his more than 890,000 followers and also endorsed another social media platform in a separate tweet, exclaiming, "Tik tok is lit!"

James' social media mores have certainly drawn attention over the years, from his "FIT-OUT" tweet in reference to Kevin Love, to his unfollowing of the Cavaliers' team account, to his use of Arthur the aardvark's clenched fist to once get a point across.

Kuzma said that the media is to blame for giving the players' social media any attention.

"People, media are trying to make me look bad or put me out there; it doesn't involve me so it doesn't matter," he said. "I'm used to it. Playing in L.A., it's going to happen. Everybody wants clickbait, everybody wants stories. Just so happens. It's what it is. Like I said, doesn't matter to me. ... I only control what I can control.

"It's really just a ridiculous thing we have to deal with. Nobody really cares except for the media."

L.A. plays the Blazers with a chance to snap a four-game losing streak Saturday. James is officially listed as questionable, however he said his right groin contusion seemed to be improving before he tested it at Saturday's shootaround. Kuzma is on a 28-minute restriction because of the back-to-back situation the Lakers face with a home game against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.