Late in the Cavaliers’ win over the Pacers last night, LeBron James and Tristan Thompson got into a heated exchange during a timeout. As the players argued about a defensive breakdown, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue looked powerless to intervene.
These issues flare up commonly enough. What separates this incident: LeBron and Thompson were so enraged at each other, they carried on in front of cameras. Usually, players keep these disputes under wraps publicly and save the harsh yelling until they’re in the locker room.
LeBron pointed the finger at himself after the game:
I’ve got to do a better job of not showing up my teammates out on the floor. I had the right intentions in my mind, but I had the wrong intentions came out of my mouth. So, I take full responsibility for that as leader of the team. So, I can be a lot better than that, be able to keep that in house, in the locker room and when we’re watching film.
That LeBron offered such a level-headed take while still on the court after an exhausting game bodes well. Sometimes, these things take longer to cool down.
The Cavs aren’t out of the woods yet, though. Their defense has been bad enough to cause more squabbling, and we haven’t yet seen precisely how LeBron and Thompson will move on.
But they’re connected through their agent, Rich Paul, and a playoff run has a way of bonding teammates together. This will probably be fine.
It’d help if Lue unveils his secret defensive plan soon. Fewer breakdowns would mean fewer opportunities for bickering.