Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James isn’t one of those players that pretends to ignore his critics. He hears the talk about his game declining, and his play made a statement Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers to prove that isn’t the case.

The Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are two of the best scorers in the NBA. For most of the game, they proved just that, but in the Clippers’ final possession, James forced Leonard to pick up his dribble and then switched onto George and forced an off balance shot as time expired.

James wanted those matchups. He heard the talk about how he dodged guarding Leonard in the Clippers’ win on Christmas.

LeBron shot just 6-of-19 and finished with 16 points and a team-high five turnovers. If the Lakers win a championship, they’ll need better offense from him. Anthony Davis carried the torch most of the night and led the Lakers with 34 points.

But star players deliver it matters most. He took on the challenge of guarding Leonard most of the fourth quarter and gave the two-time Defensive Player of the Year a few defensive lessons of his own. James also made the game-winning basket seconds before sealing the game on defense.

Defense is all about effort and with 17 years of NBA experience, James is at the point where he picks and chooses when to exalt maximum defensive energy.

The hashtags James uses on his social media pages are his motivation. #WashedKing and #RevengeSeasonContinuesSoon are two of his most popular.

James has showed Thursday he isn’t washed yet, and he got some revenge on Leonard.

Playoff committee has a tough task this season

The SEC’s decision to move to a 10-game, conference-only schedule leaves the Big 12 as the only Power Five conference that hasn’t made the shift.

The SEC is known for its depth and overall conference strength. Three different SEC teams have been in the national championship in the last three seasons. Moving to a 10-game schedule should be an advantage if the league is as strong as always, but the question is, how would we know?

Last season, the Auburn-Oregon early-season matchup helped LSU get the No. 1 seed over Ohio State. Auburn had the fifth-best conference record in the SEC, but its win against Pac-12 champion Oregon made LSU’s SEC schedule look more difficult than Ohio State’s.

Ohio State’s nonconference matchup against Oregon, Texas-LSU, Alabama-USC and Tennessee-Oklahoma are some of the games canceled that could have made the College Football Playoff Committee’s job a lot easier.

Michael Jordan, Harrison Barnes make large donations to fight against social injustice

Two former North Carolina Tar Heels are making an impact to erase racial inequalities.

Harrison Barnes and his wife Brittany donated $200K to a group of nonprofits dedicated to victims of police brutality and gun violence.

Michael Jordan is also donating $2.5 million to organizations fighting voter suppression of Black people.

Jordan’s pledge is part of his 10-year, $100 million commitment that he and the Jordan Brand made in June to combat racism.

Barnes’ and Jordan’s donations are the latest in string of large financial gifts by athletes and former athletes in 2020 after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.