INDEPENDENCE: LeBron James insisted he wasn’t tuned in to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between his former Miami Heat team and Toronto Raptors on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), although he didn’t say anything about his DVR.
With the Cavaliers enjoying at least a week’s break before they meet the series winner in the Eastern Conference finals, it was movie night for the James family. So he, presumably wife Savannah and their three children enjoyed “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Interview with the Vampire,” and “The Punisher.”
James may have had his hand on the remote’s fast-forward button since the latter two carry R ratings. But James said his kids will play a bigger part in his future than just lobbying to watch the Grinch for the umpteenth time.
James, 31, said LeBron Jr. (11), Bryce (8) and Zhuri (2) will also have a hand in his decision to retire.
Asked after practice Wednesday if he’d thought about how long he will play, James said, “No. No. I think later on in my 30s. It’s kind of up to my kids, really. I’ve missed so much of my kids’ tournaments and things of that nature when I’m playing. So, it’s kind of up to them. They’ll let me know when they’re tired of seeing me go away.”
That might figuratively speed up the ticking clock on James’ attempt to deliver a championship to Cleveland. But after making his fifth consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals a year ago, James continues to use advances in nutrition, wellness and medical technology to ensure that his body can handle a long postseason run.
“It’s not like I go into the season saying ‘OK, I’m going to play into June.’ I don’t have that sense of entitlement, but I do prepare myself for the long haul,” James said at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “And saying if I am fortunate enough to be a part of it, then it’s more of a marathon and not a sprint for me. I’ve played a lot of basketball over the last few years and I’ve been fortunate to play at the highest level for a long time now. I have to listen to my body and my body has done well for me.”
James sees Tim Duncan and Andre Miller playing this season for the San Antonio Spurs at age 40. He spent two seasons in Miami with Ray Allen, who last hit the court at age 38. The Cavs’ Richard Jefferson and James Jones both turn 36 this year, Jefferson in June, Jones in October.
“Guys are taking care if their body and understanding, ‘We can play beyond what the expectancy is of our sport.’ I think it’s a pretty cool thing,” James said. “RJ is in better shape than anyone on our team.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said this year’s playoffs, with the Cavs sweeping the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, have been different for James from a physical standpoint.
“You can kind of see he’s not really looking to do a lot,” Lue said. “If in the fourth quarter he has to take over a game he will. He’s playing a lot through Kyrie [Irving], a lot through Kevin [Love], a lot through other guys who are making shots. And he’s just making the right play. There’s not a lot of pressure, a lot of strain on his body to have to make every single play like he has before in his career.
“With that being said he can play more minutes, he can focus more on defense and not take possessions off on the defensive end. It’s been great for him. You can tell. He’s really just kind of feeling the game out.”
James confessed that when the season ends he might indulge his craving.
“I like sweets. More like dessert, stuff like that,” he said. “I’ve got to try to stay away from it, but it’s hard when you have an 11-year-old, 8-year-old and 2-year-old running around because that’s all they do all day long. So I’ve got to try to stay away from them, which is impossible.”
Lue is emphasizing conditioning, just as he did during the week’s layoff following the Pistons series. On Tuesday Lue put them through their paces on the court running “three-man weave, transition stuff.”
On Wednesday, the Cavs spent 40 minutes in the weight room under the supervision of strength and conditioning coach Derek Millender. A session Lue said was called “Four Quarters” included time on the VersaClimber.
“When they came out I wanted to do some offensive script and they had no legs,” Lue said.
“They couldn’t run, they couldn’t move. Kyrie said, ‘I know we’ve got to be done today.’ I said, ‘Let’s do a little offensive script,’ and Ky said, ‘I can’t move.’ So we walked through it. They shot free throws and got ’em out. It was a tough workout.”
James wouldn’t divulge details, but said, “I’m ready to go to bed, let’s just say that.”
LeBron praises Blazers
James said Terry Stotts of the Portland Trail Blazers “should have been or could have been coach of the year” after they lost four starters in the offseason.
Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge departed in free agency and Nicolas Batum was traded, leaving the Blazers to build around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum of GlenOak High School. On Wednesday, the defending champion Warriors ousted the Blazers in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.
“I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a team lose four starters and still be in the same position as far as postseason success they had,” James said. “The only returning starter was Dame. Dame is an All-Star, even though he wasn’t on the team he was an All-Star.
“C.J., obviously, is a stud, being from the Canton area. I thought Terry Stotts did a great job. They have nothing to be … they had a great season.”