Despite turning into into one of the best teams in the NBA over the last three months, drama continues to follow the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The bulk of that drama stems from LeBron James’ relationship with Kevin Love and David Blatt. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the best LeBron reporter in the world, went on Bill Simmons’ podcast this week and revealed some new details about just how weird the dynamic is between LeBron and Blatt.
“He really didn’t believe in David Blatt early on,” Windhorst said of LeBron.
The way Windhorst describes it, LeBron is somewhere between a player and a coach right now. He unilaterally decided to start playing point guard early in the season, Windhorst says, and has taken on responsibilities that players typically don’t have.
Windhorst says that LeBron usually calls the plays, and Blatt just repeats it:
“The Princeton offence that David Blatt installed in the preseason, they just threw that out. What typically happens — and this has been happening for three months now — what typically happens is LeBron will take the ball and he will call the play. David Blatt will see what play LeBron calls and he’ll repeat it to the team. That happens on a regular basis.”
He added, “[LeBron] has gotten himself to a place where he knows that, ‘These are my responsibilities, this is what I’m going to do and I’m going to try to get this team to a certain level.’ And David Blatt only figures into a part of that… LeBron has sectioned off certain areas and said, ‘I’ve got to take care of these.'”
When the Cavaliers hit rock bottom in January, Windhorst reported that assistant coach Tyronn Lue was “calling timeouts literally behind Blatt’s back during games.”
On the Simmons podcast, Windhorst said an NBA scout told him he has never seen anything like the LeBron-Lue-Blatt power triangle.
“I do a lot of talking to advanced scouts, and one of the things advanced scouts do is they watch the bench like hawks,” Windhorst said. “And they’re like, ‘Man, I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on on that Cavs bench.'”
LeBron and Blatt have had an odd public relationship since the beginning of the season, when LeBron responded to the idea that a Blatt used a fiery speech to motivate the team after an opening-night loss by saying, “I think pep talks and things of that nature get overblown.”
He has also taken it upon himself to coach up his teammates. Kyrie Irving told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that LeBron pulled him aside after he had zero assists in a game against the Jazz and said that can never happen again. Irving said:
“He came up to me and was like, ‘One, you can never have another game with no assists. You can damn near have just one, two, three, but you can’t have zero.’ And I was like, ‘All right, cool, it won’t happen again.’ And it hasn’t happened since that game.”
LeBron is clearly going above and beyond what a player’s role typically entails.
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