CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James was back in Cleveland Tuesday night and once again was asked to answer familiar questions about his future.
This summer, James can opt out of his contract and become a free agent.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James, like he does with defenders, delicately sidestepped with ease the answer to the question everyone is asking: does he want to play for Cleveland again?
“For right now, I haven’t even…it’s too hard for me to even think about,” James said. “We have 19 or I think something around that; there’s 20 or less games until we gear up for no sleep 2 months, hopefully. For me to try to take my mind somewhere else when I know what’s on its way, it’s almost impossible.”
His focus is elsewhere – trying to help the Heat pull off a rare three-peat in June while the Cavaliers limp to yet another dismal finish with All-Star guard Kyrie Irving sidelined with another injury.
“With the acquisitions that Chris Grant was able to bring in, I thought it would make them a better team,” James said. “Bringing in [Andrew] Bynum, bringing in Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark, I thought that would make them a better team. Obviously it has not worked out that way and they’ve made a trade [for] Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes, but yesterday didn’t help with Kyrie going down.”
James has had no problem beating the Cavaliers since departing Cleveland in 2010 – he’s 12-1 against his former team but conceded that he thought the Cavs would be much better than 26-41.
“They have some really, really good pieces,” James said. “Who am I to say they should play better or not. I’m not there with them everyday, I’m not coaching, I’m not playing so from the beginning of the season we all said we thought they’d be in better contention in the East.”
Just 10 days earlier, James visited Quicken Loans Arena to watch the Cavaliers raise Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ No. 11 to the rafters.
The visit on March 8 raised speculation that there may have been a thaw in James’ relationship with the organization, whose owner eviscerated him in a letter to fans moments after his decision to take his talents to south beach.
For some it was strange to see James sitting in a suite before moving to the Cavs bench for the ceremony, but not for him.
“I wouldn’t say strange because the night couldn’t be strange because what I was there for,” James said. “To be able to support Z and see his jersey go up in the rafters; the best thing of the night was seeing his mom and dad again. I hadn’t seen them in a while. And also seeing Gordon Gund as well, a guy who drafted me, so that was pretty cool.”
Contrary to rampant speculation, there was no other agenda for James’ visit – other than to support a friend and former teammate and enjoy watching him receiver the ultimate honor.
“That’s why I was here, I knew it was going to be a special night,” James said. “It couldn’t happen to a better person. I think Wayne Embry said it best, it wasn’t about the basketball player, they drafted a guy. That was big time.”
As for his own jersey joining Ilgauskas and 6 other Cavalier greats, he’ll leave that for the franchise to decide.
“It’s not for me to be concerned about or to even think about,” James said. “It’s something that, we all as professionals and athletes dram about is being able to have your jersey retired in any building, whatever franchise you play for. That means you were able to be successful both on and off the floor. So we’ll see.”
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