Cole Swider Breaks Down His Journey, Playing With LeBron James

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Cole Swider joined Aron Cohen and Lamar Odom as a guest on the LADE Show last week. Swider is in his rookie campaign, on a two-way contract with the Lakers. 

Swider is from Rhode Island and had an interesting journey to the NBA. He spent his first three years in college at Villanova before transferring to Syracuse for his final season. 

“Villanova was great, Swider noted. “Coach Wright is one of the best college basketball coaches of all time. He taught me so many things. We played zone at Syracuse. So coach Wright taught me all the man-to-man stuff that I know. Honestly, to the NBA level, I haven’t heard anything that I didn’t hear from coach Wright. He was really instrumental in my career, and it wasn’t the best basketball fit, so that’s why I had to transfer, but he taught me a lot of great things.”

After college, Swider went on to the draft process. He worked out for 12 different teams and had two workouts with the Lakers. “My first workout with (the Lakers) was probably my best workout. They had another guy on me, who I thought I had a good matchup with. Then they brought me back for a second workout.” 

Swider didn’t know if he would get drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent. His draft process was drastically different than Odom’s. Swider’s workouts included competing against other players, while Odom had individual workouts as he went 4th overall to the Clippers.

General manager Rob Pelinka ended up calling Swider and signing him to a two-way contract.

Swider’s next step in his carer came with Summer League. “Summer League was a great experience… Coach started running plays for me, got me really involved, and I was knocking them down. So it was really a great experience. [It] definitely got my momentum going.”

Swider was asked about what it’s like being a two-way player and the difference between playing with LeBron James one day and being in the g-league the next day. He said, “It motivates me… this is where I’m at right now, but I’m not going to stay here for long… [You go from] playing in front of 100 people in Ontario, California, at 11:00 am and then a TNT game against the Bucks and Giannis at night. So, it’s definitely a mindset shift, but you always got to be ready. People dream of these moments. People dream [of being] in this situation. So I don’t take those moments lightly.”

When asked about the experience of playing with LeBron and AD, Swider said, “Those guys been great to me. Lamar knows he’s a legend, but playing with legends, you pick up nuggets every single day that you play with them… I ask them questions, and they’ve been great to me giving those answers.”

Swider talked about his first time meeting his favorite player ever and now teammate, LeBron James, saying, “I met LeBron in high school, at a Nike basketball camp. It was a quick, just dap up kind of thing.”

Swider then talked about LeBron traveling to their Summer League game, saying, “We got smacked, but I had a pretty good game, hit some tough shots. The next day, we [went to] this high school to practice. LeBron was there before, and he was icing his knees. And he was in the back, talking to coach Ham and Pelinka. So I kind of saw his stuff, [and] moved my stuff over there, and [LeBron] walked back to his seat, and he [said], ‘Yo, what’s up Cole.’ [That was] the first time he addressed my name. [LeBron] has been my favorite player my whole life. So for him to address me by name was just crazy. So that’s the first time I really met him.”

Swider is a three-point sniper looking to make the Lakers roster permanently. In the G-League, he is averaging 15/5/2, shooting 43.4% from three. If he keeps improving his game, he be elevated from a two-way contract to a standard deal, and be an elite shooter around LeBron and AD.

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