We’ve gained a little insight into LeBron James’ personal life. Apparently his idea of a honeymoon involves a very public show of baseball player cosplay.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers star entered Friday night’s game with the Chicago Bulls by cashing in on a World Series bet made with pal Dwyane Wade, walking into Chicago’s United Center while wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform at the behest of Cub-fan Wade, after James’ Cleveland team lost in seven games to the Cubs in the World Series (note: neither of these players really roots for either of those teams).
That entrance was followed by a close but eventual defeat at the hands of Wade’s Bulls, with LeBron offering 27 points, 13 assists and five rebounds but also eight turnovers in what turned into the Cavs’ third straight defeat, by a 111-105 score.
Following the contest, one that saw the 34-year old Wade routinely beating James in plays off the dribble, LeBron was distressed in talking to Dave McMenamin at ESPN and others following the loss in Chicago’s West Side:
“We’ve got to get out of the honeymoon stage,” a visibly frustrated LeBron James said after he had a personal 30-game winning streak broken for his teams when he totaled 20-plus points and 10-plus assists. “That’s y’all’s headline for tomorrow. I know y’all going to use it.”
Yes. Yes we will. Kindly go on:
“You’ve got to play the game the right way,” James continued. “You’ve got to battle every night like we ain’t won nothing. Last year is last year, and after ring night, it’s over with. Now it’s a new season and everybody is gunning for us every night, and we have to understand that. The honeymoon stage is over, and it’s time to play some real ball and be physical, especially in the trenches. Giving up 78 [points in the paint] is ridiculous. We’ve got to man up. Everybody.”
“The best thing about this league is you kind of always get an opportunity right away to be better,” he said, pointing to the second night of the back-to-back ahead of them in Chicago. “Now, three games in a row, that’s something to talk about.”
Reminded of that quote postgame on Friday night, James simply quipped, “We’ve got to be better.”
Given the three game stretch, which also included a loss to the Bucks, it is a true sentiment. The Cavaliers do need to improve their play. The team, currently stuck at 13-5, is now only on pace for 60 wins, and it’s only a half game up in the East on the Toronto Raptors team the Cavs easily handled during last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The whirlwind is unimaginable, and we hope the Cavs have it in them to work through the storm and stress.
Cleveland had its chances against Chicago, but the Bulls pulled away in the second half after both teams gave defense a wave from afar through the first 24 minutes of close action. Wade notched 24 points on 23 shots, and Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler offered 26 points with eight rebounds and six assists with three steals and two blocks. Big man Taj Gibson, who made his first eight shots, was the team’s MVP with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the win, which pulled the Bulls to 11-7 following a disappointing loss to the short-handed Lakers on Wednesday.
Taking a page out of Cleveland’s book, the Bulls were able to spread the floor and create unorthodox driving lanes throughout the second half. Though he hit for one clutch three-pointer in the fourth quarter, Cavs star Kevin Love struggled overall to contain Gibson, while missing nine of 14 shots overall. “I was bad tonight,” Love semi-correctly concluded following the game.
The contest was Cleveland’s fourth in six nights, with the lone win coming against a miserable Philadelphia 76ers squad. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, via McMenamin, reminded his team that the sub-standard play will “happen again” if the team enters Toronto and New York (its two upcoming opponents) with the same somewhat languorous mindset.
The Cavs aren’t happy, but these are the sorts of runs that tend to fall in line during a champ’s title defense. Not every team can be the 1996-97 Bulls or 2008-09 Boston Celtics, squads that started the year 17-1 and 27-2 respectively, and it isn’t as if the Cavs got off to a decidedly poor start in 2016-17.
The “honeymoon” carried over from the team’s first NBA championship clearly didn’t affect its rollin’ ways throughout the first 15 games of the season, which included 13 victories. It hasn’t gotten in the way of James’ brilliant season, Kyrie Irving’s emerging brilliance, or Love’s potent (if maddeningly inconsistent, especially when he’s relegated to a role that doesn’t suit him) shot-making.
Alas, LeBron said it; so we’ll use the headline. And when he wants to pack up and leave a few days early, feeling as if the rain is coming, you best listen.
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