INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James won’t be giving the Progressive Field crowd any pregame pep talks before Game 1 of the ALCS between the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays.
But Game 2 might be a different story.
James, who fired up the crowd on the field prior to Game 2 of the American League Division series between the Indians and Boston Red Sox, will be with his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, for a preseason game in Chicago on Friday night, the same night the Tribe will open the best-of-seven Championship series against Toronto.
However, the NBA superstar is hoping he will be able to make it to Game 2 of the series on Saturday.
The reigning NBA champion finds it pretty fitting that the Indians will be forced to battle the Jays in the ALCS, given the Cavs had to fight through the Toronto Raptors in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals for the right to square off with the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, a series Cleveland won in seven games.
“It’s pretty funny that both Cleveland teams face a Toronto team in the Conference Finals, back-to-back,” James said. “[We’ll] continue to support [the Indians]. They’ve played great ball all year and hopefully they can continue it. I support them for sure. I think it’s great what they’ve been able to do.”
James knows that any relaxing honeymoon period Cleveland fans have been feeling since the Cavaliers won the NBA championship in June, ending the city’s 52-year championship drought, has ceased with the Tribe trying to win Cleveland’s second professional sports championship over a five-month stretch.
“There’s no relaxation time for our fans, because the Indians are playing so well,” James said. “You saw Game 3 the other night in Boston, our fans were like, ‘Come on. Close this thing out!’ That relaxation period is not as relaxing anymore now that the Indians are playing so well.”
The four-time NBA MVP was one of several Cavs players to show their support during Game 2 of the ALDS, with Richard Jefferson, Kevin Love, Channing Frye, Tristan Thompson — and even the free agent guard J.R. Smith — among those in attendance on October 7.
The Indians certainly appreciated their Gateway neighbors’ appearance during their three-game sweep of the Red Sox.
“When the Cavs players came out, I got goosebumps before the game,” reliever Dan Otero said. “I was kind of starstruck to see those guys. To have their support is big, and we know that the fans are behind us.”
“I thought that was special,” second baseman Jason Kipnis added. “It does mean a lot to us to see other teams come out to support us. I can’t deny that. We’re proud to host them any time they want to come. We appreciate them doing that.”
Game 1 of the ALCS featuring the Indians and Blue Jays will begin just after 8:00 p.m. on Friday.