Leading sports scientist compares LeBron James’ workload to a Tour de France cyclist


It’s been obvious to anyone watching the Finals that LeBron James is taking on a superhuman workload. But according to  group of leading athletic trainers and scientists, we haven’t fully grasped just how much is being asked of him. Thanks to injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and the horrible shooting of J.R. Smith, James has been asked to do basically everything himself on the offensive end, and that’s before you factor in the amount of travel between games. In a fascinating piece by ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh, the Athletic Lab’s Michael Young compared James’ workload to a Tour de France rider.

Playing 40-plus minutes multiple times a week while traveling across the country and carrying the offensive load?

“That’s the top of the top,” Young says. “Every one of these NBA guys are under a tremendous amount of stress at this point, but LeBron in particular, playing 46 minutes a game with that travel and quick turnaround … it’s a little insane. That’s unbelievable, really, to bear that mental and physical burden and still play at a high level.”

When asked if there is any athletic equivalent to playing two games in three days while traveling across three time zones, Young paused for a moment to think. He could only point to one.

“Maybe the Tour de France,” Young says.

But even that, Young attests, can’t quite capture the carnage on James’ body.

“In cycling, there’s no physical impact on your body like basketball,” Young says. “The overall workload is significantly higher on the Tour but there’s no constant impact, which plays a huge role in fatigue that LeBron is probably experiencing. And there’s no real travel to speak of.”

It’s not just this season, either. Between the regular season and playoffs, James has played almost 6,000 more minutes than anyone else in the league since the 2003-04 season, and that’s before you take into account Team USA play.

If the Cavs somehow win the series, it will be the most impressive feat of James’ career.

Dwyane Wade on LeBron James: ‘I’m seeing a different focus and look that I haven’t seen’


Dwyane Wade won two championships playing alongside LeBron James, and the duo took the Miami Heat to the Finals in each of the last four seasons.

He’s seen plenty of greatness out of LeBron, and he’s seen it up close. But he’s never seen his former teammate dialed in quite like this.

“Obviously I played with you for four years, and I’ve seen you in many different arenas,” Wade said to LeBron, during a postgame interview he conducted on ESPN. “Let’s talk about your mindset right now, Because I see a different LeBron. I see a different focus and look that I haven’t seen. And I’ve seen a lot.”

It’s something others have noticed, as well.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

James, who tried to replicate the Miami Heat’s Big Three model in Cleveland only to find himself as the lone All-Star on this Kyrie Irving/Kevin Love-less group that has no business being ahead against the Warriors, is sharing messages of motivation at every turn.

Publicly. Privately. Those closest to him are struck by this fiery look that’s in his eye, a focus and will the likes of which even they have never seen and a selfless style that is so perfectly contagious.

Whatever is motivating LeBron at this point, it’s driving him to play at a level that’s enabled him to carry his team to an improbable 2-1 series lead over the Warriors in these Finals.

Iman Shumpert leaves Game 3 with injury, but likely to return

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Update II: Shumpert returned midway through the second quarter.


Update: Iman Shumpert returned to the Cavaliers’ bench early in the second quarter, and the Cavaliers said he’s likely to return, according to ABC.


Iman Shumpert left Game 3 with an apparent left shoulder injury.

The Cavaliers wing hurt himself taking a hard, legal screen from Draymond Green in the first quarter. Shumpert left the court area holding his

Shumpert has been pivotal in defending Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and Cleveland lacks a perimeter defender to match him.

This could press Mike Miller into action or cause the Cavaliers – already using a smaller rotation than the Warriors – to play even fewer players. Neither is a great option.

Cleveland has already overcome injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in these playoffs. How much more must the team endure?



Flip Saunders: ‘Right now’ he’s planning on returning as Timberwolves head coach


Last month at the NBA Draft Lottery in New York City, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor seemed uncertain when asked if Flip Saunders, who is also the team’s president of basketball operations, would once again be its head coach next season.

“It’s not definite,” Taylor said, after pausing for a few seconds when asked specifically about Saunders returning as head coach. “But in my mind, with the effort that he put in this year to bring this team along, it’s probably 90 percent. If he sees somebody and he changes his mind, he certainly could convince me. I think eventually I want a different coach, and I want him to be the GM. My guess is that he’ll go another year.”

Saunders himself, in an interview on NBC Sports Radio, seemed to indicate that it remains a fluid situation.

From SI.com:

Are you going to coach this team?

Saunders: “Right now I’m coaching the team. It’s a question everybody asks. It’s interesting, when I ended up coaching a year ago, it was the right thing to do at that time for the organization. We had the unknowns with Kevin Love, we would have pigeonholed ourselves if we took a veteran coach and maybe not have the flexibility to go as young as we did. Right now, the most important thing is to develop our young talent. We have done a pretty good job with our staff and organization moving in that direction. Until I feel we can get somebody who can move forward a little bit, we’ll [stay] where we’re at.”

Do you hear from coaching agents often?

Saunders: “Last year I probably talked to 12 coaches. A lot of people probably weren’t aware. I’m not one to advertise. I’ve done the same thing as far as numerous coaches this year. It might not be for right now, but it could be down the road. I’m constantly in the evaluation process for coaches.”

Saunders seems open to stepping back into a front-office only role. But with the Timberwolves at the beginning of a rebuilding process, he’s only going to do so if he can find what he feels to be a perfect fit from a coaching standpoint to lead this transition.

“Right now,” he sees himself as the team’s best option.

Report: Kevin Love to Boston this summer a longshot


We will start where we always start with these stories:

Kevin Love has said repeatedly he has no intention of leaving the Cavaliers this summer. There are more reasons for him to stay rather than leave at this point, and I’ve said from the start I’ve heard he will stay and expect him to do just that.

But the rumors will not die.

Boston has been home to those rumors since last summer when GM Danny Ainge was trying to make Love the Celtics’ big free agent move. But according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald don’t expect to see Love in Celtics green next season even if he does opt out.

According to all sources, Danny Ainge still has affection for Love, but it’s not nearly the borderline obsession that was in play last summer….

The idea last year was to try to pair Love and (Rajon) Rondo, giving the Celts a solid two-All-Star base around which to build and presenting Rondo with a reason to stay when he reached free agency this summer. So, as we noted even before the Timberwolves got their deal, no Love meant no Rondo….

And from all indications, Love is not seen as a foundational player upon whom to build. Further, sources say his knee issues are bound to have an impact on his basketball longevity and effectiveness.


There are going to be some interesting questions down the line for the Cavaliers and Love, especially with the emergence of Tristan Thompson in these playoffs as a valuable part of the front line. But those are down the line.

In the short term, don’t expect Love in Boston. Or anywhere else that is not Cleveland.