CLEVELAND — Going into their game against the Nets on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena, the defending NBA champion Cavaliers had lost six of their previous eight games, prompting a recent profane rant from LeBron James about what he considers their roster deficiencies.
James later clarified his remarks on Twitter, saying he was not upset with general manager David Griffin but reinforcing his desire to improve the roster to repeat, “if that’s still what we want to do.”
Having gotten his point across, James made a concerted effort to tone down his rhetoric when asked after Friday morning’s shootaround about his relationship with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, which has been contentious in the past. “Ummmm, he’s the owner of the team,” James said. “I’m a player on the team. I think all 14 guys have a working relationship with all of them. It’s not about me and it’s not about him. So it’s a non-issue.”
After the Cavaliers’ loss to the Kings on Wednesday night, James was asked about a report that the Knicks offered to trade his friend, Carmelo Anthony, to the Cavs. “I have no reaction,” James said of an offer that was rejected. “We need to be ready every night with what we’ve got in here. We can’t play fantasy basketball. We’ve got who we’ve got. We’ve got to go out and play.”
Anthony’s name came up again Friday morning when James was asked about being the oldest player named to the NBA All-Star Game and the fact that many of his contemporaries, including Anthony, will not be there. “Well, first of all, it [expletive] not having my guys there that I’ve spent so many All-Star Weekends with — CP [Chris Paul], Melo, D-Wade [Dwyane Wade] and [Chris] Bosh — almost a decade, actually,” James said. “For me personally, it’s an honor to be able to represent this franchise, represent my family.”
James’ sense of humor emerged when he was asked for his first impression of Nets rookie Caris LeVert, an Ohio native who spent his college career at Michigan. LeVert scored a career-high 19 points in the Nets’ loss to the Cavs on Jan. 6 at Barclays Center.
“I think he has a bright future [with] his speed and athleticism,” James said. With a sly smile, he added, “Obviously, he was hampered a lot being at that other school we don’t talk about around here in college and injuries kind of slowed that down a little bit for him, but I’m happy to see him back out on the floor. It’s good for the kid.”
James had one last zinger in him. When asked if there were some “goofy” votes in the All-Star selections, James said, “There’s always goofy votes. I mean, Donald Trump is our president.”