With one of most covered Media Day events now in the books for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team begins its preparations for the most anticipated season in its 44-year history. Friday’s hectic day was marked by parking problems at the team’s practice facility, with a convoy of media satellite trucks around the world the main culprit for that issue.
Comments from players and coaches ran the gamut from resolute confidence to tempering the enthusiasm that’s gripped the franchise since July 11, when LeBron James made the decision to return to his original NBA home.
“I like expectations. That means you have something in your bag, and people expect results.”
Blatt does have to deal with the issue of having never coached in the NBA before this season. With that said, the level of international play he coached against, coupled with the talent he now has at his disposal, should help mitigate those concerns.
“…having three guys of our caliber on one team, it’s definitely going to be tough for teams.”
Not mentioned in his comments was the lingering concern of both his and Love’s durability. Both have had injury issues in the past, and losing either of them, or especially James, would most likely wreck any hopes for an NBA title.
Love’s acquisition was seen as perhaps the final building block by both Irving, and fellow newcomer Shawn Marion, who cited the trade as his reason for signing with Cleveland.
Love himself, whose Minnesota Timberwolves teams never reached the postseason, mirrors Blatt’s embracing of the pressure that now comes with this team.
“I know a lot people want to say championship or bust,” said Love, “That’s going to be a good mentality to have because we want the pressure.”
Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of the entire day were the thoughts of James, who mentioned the see-saw of emotions he experienced with the Miami Heat during four consecutive trips to NBA Finals.
“I understand winning a championship is the hardest thing you could ever do. I’ve been two up and two down in four years,” said James.
He also noted that, given the two rings that he’s won, he’s more patient in achieving the same goal with the Cavaliers. Such comments are likely a way to try and tamp down the fervor that surrounds this team. Having Love and Irving to share the spotlight (and pressure) also helps reduce the team relying solely on him, as they did for much of his previous time with the franchise.
That said, James was still more than happy to declare himself as THE player for this unit saying,
“I will be the leader of this team. I believe I bring leadership qualities that a lot of guys either don’t want or just don’t know how to do it.”
During his previous stint with the Cavaliers, James’ maturity was called into question on a few occasions, which caused some to doubt the idea of James as a leader. However, in the 10 weeks since he announced his return, he has given every indication that he can handle such duties.
One other anecdote James offered dealt with how his two sons helped clinch the decision to return to the Cavaliers. Both of the sons found the idea of returning full-time to their home, as well as re-connecting with local friends, reason enough to come back.
In the end, this day is an exercise in appeasement for teams: they give the media one entire day to have the run of the place in order to get a buzz going for that team. The difference in this case is that the buzz for the Cavaliers has been an alarm for quite a while, and it obviously shows no sign of waning, if Friday’s contingent was any indication.