Ever since LeBron James left the Cavaliers for Miami at the conclusion of the 2010 season, the team has been dismal at best, and one of the league’s bottom feeders.
Now that he’s returned, James believes a hangover of sorts exists that is at least partially to blame for the team’s slow start — one that’s seen the Cavaliers register just one win against two losses in their first three games of the season.
After an ugly 19-point loss to the Blazers where James finished with just 11 points and scored only two points over the final three quarters — something that hasn’t happened since a month into his rookie season back in 2003 — James explained his reasoning.
“There’s been a lot of losing basketball around here for a few years,” James said. “A lot of guys who are going to help us ultimately win haven’t played a lot of meaningful games in our league. When we get to that point where every possession matters, no possessions off … we have to share the ball, we have to move the ball, we’ve got to be a team and be unselfish and we’ll be a better team.” …
“I’m just trying to do other things,” James said. “I’m trying to instill what it takes to win. My mission is not a one-game thing. We have to do multiple things in order to win. We have to share the ball. We’ve got to play defense. We’ve got to sacrifice in order to ultimately win. Obviously, when you’re going through the process, it’s not the best part of it. But I’m looking at the end of the tunnel.” …
“But there’s a lot of bad habits. A lot of bad habits have been built up over the past couple of years. When you play that style of basketball, it takes a lot to get it up out of you. But I’m here to help, and that’s what it’s about it.”
The relevant pieces still in place are Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, young and talented players to be sure, but ones who more than anyone are trying to find a balance of adjusting their games to fit in with the newly-acquired superstars on the roster.
It remains to be seen if James backing off entirely on the offensive end of the floor as he did in this one is the way to show his teammates that they need to share the basketball in the flow of the offense, and not wait around for him to take over and bail them out when things aren’t going as planned.
But what is clear is that it will take some time for this Cavaliers team to come together as contenders, and it may be longer than many expected before it ultimately happens.