LeBron James sent a message to critics who question his mentoring of younger players, saying they could "kiss my a***".
James' triple-double of 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds led the Los Angeles Lakers past the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 on Sunday.
For the Pelicans, Zion Williamson – the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft – scored a career-high 35 points to continue the strong start to his career.
James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, shared a post-game moment with Williamson, a day after praising Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.
"It's my obligation and it's my job to continue to pass on the game to the guys that are coming in after me, it's just my responsibility," he told a news conference on Sunday.
"No-one told me to do that, I just feel like it's my responsibility to leave the game in a better place than when I had it.
"When you see the class of guys that are in our league right now, I mentioned Ja last night, you mention Zion tonight, you see Trae Young, you see Luka Doncic, you see Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, you just see all these guys, these young guys, the league is in a very good place.
"If I'm able to give my wisdom and game and pass it down no matter when I'm playing or after I'm playing I feel like it's my job because the game has given me so much as I started playing when I was eight years old.
"It's my responsibility and anybody that says, 'LeBron, why would he do that while he's playing? It's a sign of weakness, he's buddy-buddy with guys he's going against', tell them they can kiss my a***, with a smile too."
James' Lakers hold a 46-13 record and are 5.5 games clear atop the Western Conference.