Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said on Wednesday that there is a “good possibility” LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love will all sit out Thursday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That has led some to speculate that the move is, at least in part, being driven by LeBron’s recent feud with Charles Barkley.
The theory is that, while the Cavs wanted to get their star players some rest anyway, they picked this particular game because it is being broadcast on Barkley’s network, TNT, and by sitting, the network’s ratings for the game will take a big blow.
ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show brought up the theory on Thursday.
“There is this anti-Charles Barkley thing and this is a TNT game,” Mike Greenberg said. “Is there any~ conceivable chance that factored into this decision?”
Mike Golic responded with a smile, “well, it is so fun to think it did.”
While the pair seemingly discussed the topic with a little tongue-in-cheek — Golic later referred to it as a “conspiracy theory” — they also didn’t dismiss it outright either as having been at least in the back of the minds of those calling the shots in Cleveland.
As fun as it does sound, there is a more logical reason for picking this game to miss.
The game in Oklahoma City is the fourth for the Cavaliers in six nights, with all four coming on the road. This road trip started in New York, went to Washington D.C., and then to Indianapolis. The trip also included a gruelling overtime game against the Wizards in which all three of the “Big 3” played more than 41 minutes.
It is also the second night of back-to-back games without a day off in between.
In other words, if a team is ever going to pick a game to have their stars sit, this is exactly the type of game to do it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that LeBron won’t enjoy the extra benefit of sticking it to Barkley. He might have a little extra smile thinking about Barkley complaining about the matchup, something he does from time to time, when the teams playing on TNT are something below A-list level.
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