LeBron James to Produce and Star in New Disney Television Series

LeBron James has a childhood story unlike anyone else’s.

He hasn’t been shy about sharing it, especially of late, as he returns to his Ohio roots to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now it will be the subject of the pilot for a new series called Becoming, developed by his Springhill Production Company along with ESPN Films, premiering Sunday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on Disney XD.

In the pilot, James and friends, teammates and former coaches will speak about the past alongside footage of his playing days for the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars team in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), as well as at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.

There are plans for future episodes of the show to profile other prominent athletes. In a statement, James said:

I’m really excited about helping develop Becoming and bringing this kind of program to kids. Sports and athletes were my inspiration growing up. It was the stories about Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders and Allen Iverson that kept me dreaming. When I learned that they had some of the same struggles and challenges I did, it made everything seem possible. That’s what Becoming is all about.

Springhill Production has another program currently on the air, one also—if much more looselybased on James’ experiences. The first two episodes of the comedy Survivor’s Remorse have already aired on the Starz cable network. That series is set in Atlanta and focuses on a basketball star and how the people around him react to that stardom.

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @EthanJSkolnick.

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LeBron James bringing his story to TV series (Yahoo Sports)

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James is hoping to motivate kids by telling his own inspiring story.

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Kevin Durant’s Path to Greatness Won’t Follow the LeBron James Blueprint

We can’t be sure Kevin Durant will ever reach the NBA‘s promised land by winning a title. But if he does, we can be certain he’ll do it his own way—and not by emulating LeBron James.

So often, we catch ourselves comparing Durant to James, probably because they sit 1-2 (or perhaps 1-1a) in the NBA’s superstar hierarchy. It’s a shared status that makes KD proud, per an interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick:

I put in the work. And being the best player (in the NBA) is (now) a conversation. If you go out today and say, ‘KD is the best player in the world,’ that’s a conversation. That’s not the tell-all, be-all. So when people say, ‘Oh, he might have been MVP, but he’s not the best player in the world.’ Well, I can argue it. We can all argue it.

Perhaps because their only peers are each other, we assume Durant’s path to greatness will somehow resemble James’. We look for similarities, for common threads. We see Durant’s possible free agency in 2016 and start appropriating elements of James’ Cleveland homecoming onto Durant’s unwritten story, wondering what it would be like if KD also returned to his roots in D.C.

Amick writes: “It’s undeniable that Durant is being watched closely in the context of his greatest rival, as James’ lack of a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers led to his departure for the Miami Heat in 2010 and the Heat’s loss to the Spurs in June sparked his return home.”

That we look at Durant in this context says a lot about what we want him to become. We want KD to author a narrative of redemption like James. We want him to fit into the same kind of satisfying, familiar character arc.

But James’ path isn’t one Durant will walk.

 

Two Paths

James’ road to greatness started in a far different place than Durant’s did, much farther apart than Ohio and Maryland.

Durant explained a key difference between himself and James (and the reason the latter has always faced more pressure to excel) in an interview with B/R this past summer:

I think coming out of high school, everybody from the outside put so much pressure on LeBron, calling him The King, calling him all these other things, really acting like you thought he was inhuman. …

For me, I think people know that I’m human, that I make mistakes. It took me some time. I’m not the strongest guy in the league. I didn’t come in as some prototypical basketball player. I had to work my way up from the bottom. I didn’t come in with so many crazy expectations. I wasn’t a child phenom—none of that stuff.

I guess people looked at me as human.

So as the demands for greatness intensified when James made the Finals at 22, Durant’s trip to the NBA’s decisive round at 23 was viewed as a pleasantly ahead-of-schedule anomaly. The criticism that attended each player’s first-try failure was vastly different.

James was supposed to win, supposed to be great.

Durant didn’t catch nearly the same amount of heat for falling short.

Even now, almost every OKC disappointment falls at the feet of Russell Westbrook, the kind of scapegoat James has never had the luxury of playing with.

 

Growth: Engineered and Organic

James’ career narrative has been all about self discovery.

Part of that comes from being a national media focal point from the age of 15. Child stars (precisely what James was) don’t always have an easy time establishing a genuine identity because they’ve been stamped with an artificial one at such an early age.

At the same time, James has embraced this evolution of character. He references growing up all the time, and when he explained his four-year trip to Miami, he compared it to college.

Per his essay with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, James said: “Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go.”

In addition to embracing the growth narrative, James has also been subject to a character evolution ridden with tropes. He was the young savior in Cleveland, then the villain in Miami after his heel turn. Midway through his stint with the Heat, James stopped embracing his role as pariah and became Mr. Nice Guy again.

“To be on the other side, they call it the dark side, or the villain, whatever they call it, it was definitely challenging for myself,” James said in an interview with ESPN, via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“It basically turned me into somebody I wasn’t. Me, personally, I’m not that guy.”

Then he went back home, where everything (for now) is just perfect.

It was a redemptive storyline like any you’d see on television.

Durant is different. We’ve had a better sense of who he is all along. And instead of us assigning him some kind of artificial arc or him embracing one, he’s just grown up naturally.

His MVP speech was impressive. Genuine.

But it wasn’t unexpected. And when he opens up to interviewers like Amick with choice curse words or the occasional politically incorrect answer, we’re not surprised either.

“It’s like I keep saying: I’m human. Some people look at professional athletes like superheroes and nothing is supposed to affect us. But sometimes it does, and sometimes I go off,” Durant told Amick.

James’ story is about a guy learning who he is. Durant’s is about someone who’s known all along.

 

His Own Blueprint

So if Durant goes home to the Washington Wizards in two years, there will be elements that resemble the ones from James’ story. Some might try to spin it as a betrayal of Oklahoma City, but that angle will lose steam quickly.

Durant has been nothing but loyal to his small-market city, a place with which he had no previous connection. If he leaves, it won’t be like James leaving home to chase a ring; it’ll be more like Durant gave ring-chasing his best shot in one place and then going home to try it in another.

When we ask if Durant is stuck following James’ blueprint, the answer is only “yes” in one sense: He needs a ring to complete his career, to solidify his spot as one of the game’s all-time greats.

How he gets that ring and how he solidifies that legacy will be unique to him.

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What Boston Celtics Need from James Young This Season

Head coach Brad Stevens’ second season with the Boston Celtics should feature plenty of question marks, and rookie swingman James Young might actually be the biggest.

Young, who ended up in green after falling to No. 17 in the 2014 NBA draft, is a high-upside swingman but is just 19 years old.

On top of that, Young missed the entire Orlando Summer League, so he’ll be heading into his rookie campaign with just the preseason under his belt.

In years past, this would not be that big of a deal. Under Doc Rivers, the Celtics rarely relied on rookies, preferring to let them develop slowly.

However, the mid-rebuild C’s are going to try a variety of lineups and will likely look to get Young and fellow first-year guard Marcus Smart immediate minutes in the rotation.

This means Young will be facing expectations right away. 

He may be raw, but if Young hits the ground running, he could potentially help Boston exceed expectations in what many anticipate to be another lost year.

Let’s take a look at what Stevens and the Celtics need out of the Kentucky sharpshooter and whether it’s possible he delivers.

 

Any Semblance of Outside Shooting

If there is one thing Boston absolutely needs from Young, it is three-point shooting. 

With Rajon Rondo, Evan Turner and Smart all set to see major minutes, the team’s outside shooting could be grizzly. 

Both Jeff Green and Avery Bradley can make open threes, but neither are volume shooters who should be jacking up five or six triples per game.

Young only shot 34.9 percent from three in college, which is troubling, but he’s a threat from anywhere beyond the arc.

He’s equally adept above the break as he is from the corners, which is key.

He can’t necessarily nail tough off-the-dribble shots, but as a rookie, he’ll be doing the vast majority of his work without the ball in his hands. 

Young has the potential to be a legitimate catch-and-shoot threat who can help create driving lanes for players like Bradley and Rondo.

Boston was tied for 27th in overall three-point percentage at 33.3, something that must improve.

The Celtics aren’t suddenly going to become the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors with Rondo and Turner throwing up bricks, but if this offense hopes to show any sign of life, it will need more perimeter shooting.

Even if the other aspects of Young’s game don’t come together in year one, his season will be a success if he can log 12-14 minutes and hit 35-plus percent of his threes.

 

A Positive Disposition

Let’s be realistic: Young could exceed all expectations, and the Celtics would still wind up losing a lot of games in 2014-15.

Going from the NCAA national championship game to the NBA lottery would be a rough adjustment for any player, especially a teenager like Young who has been a winner his entire career.

On another level, Young will have to go through the same trials and tribulations as any first-year player.

When asked if he would be comfortable going to the D-League to receive heavy minutes, Young told MassLive’s Tom Westerholm, “Definitely not.”

He elaborated, “If it happens, it happens. But I just want to stay here and get better like that.”

Wanting to stay around the Celtics makes sense, but his aversion to the D-League is troubling.

A raw athlete like Young, who needs to work on his strength, defense and playmaking, would be wise to log some time against lesser competition. 

As a 6’6″, 215-pound wing, Young would be eaten alive by some of the league’s bigger 2s and 3s.

Had Young actually been drafted by a playoff team, he likely would see very sporadic playing time and potentially an extended stay in the D-League.

Just because the Celtics could struggle this season doesn’t mean Young deserves to get starting or sixth-man minutes. 

Boston also simply has a logjam in the backcourt, and Young is near the bottom of the food chain.

According to ESPN’s depth chart, Young is the C’s third 2-guard behind Bradley and Marcus Thornton.

If that stays the same, he will likely be seeing sub-double-digit minutes for much of the season.

Obviously, a potential injury could bring Young to a more prominent role, but overall, he needs to stay patient during what could be a rocky rookie year.

 

Consistent Aggression

Even if Young winds up receiving consistent minutes from the beginning of the season, there is still serious potential for him to drift in and out of games.

That simply cannot happen.

While Young is commonly known as a sharpshooter, he is at his best when he’s attacking the basket.

As you can see by his shot chart (below), Young is roughly as effective shooting from mid-range and driving to the hole as he is gunning from distance. 

Obviously, it will be harder for him to get into the paint against NBA defenders, particularly with his scrawny frame, but he needs to attack as much as possible.

Young only got to the line 4.4 times per game at Kentucky, a number he must improve on if he hopes to become a starting-caliber player in the league.

Boston already has players, like Green and Bradley, who have a tendency to settle for tough, long two-point jumpers instead of driving to the hole, a habit Young cannot get into early on.

If he runs the floor hard alongside Rondo, he should find himself with some easy looks, and while he’s not an elite dribbler, he has a decent enough handle to create some of his own offense.

If Young truly wants to avoid a prolonged trip to the D-League, he must be aggressive on offense at all times even if it hurts his field-goal percentage and leads to some questionable decisions.

Boston was 26th in the league in points per game last season (96.2) for a reason, and the biggest thing Young can do to fix that is to just to look for his shots when available.

The Celtics lack a clear first option offensively, and while Young won’t take on that role, he could alleviate some of the pressure faced by Green, Rondo and Jared Sullinger

 

Overall

Young is not going to be the Rookie of the Year or anything close to it, but he’s far from an afterthought.

The Celtics are talent-strapped enough that every player has the potential to play a major role, and Young’s upside makes him highly intriguing.

His skills, in theory, could help Boston’s woeful scoring issues, but only if he can make the most of his limited action and be prepared for trips to the D-League to see some extra burn.

Figure Young plays in roughly 55 games and averages something along the lines of 6.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 17 minutes per night.

In the end, Young will have a turbulent first season but will show enough promise that he becomes a key cog of Boston’s rebuild.

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Kyrie Irving Gives LeBron James Asset, Challenge That Kobe, Jordan Never Had

INDEPENDENCE, OHIO — There are many ways to assist a basketball team or organization, other than a pinpoint pass. Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ on-court assist leader the past three seasons, did so with a pen stroke.  

LeBron James made that plain again as the Cavs opened training camp, as he acknowledged that, while “95 percent” of his decision to return was rooted in his deep connection to Northeast Ohio, it was at least partly due to his desire to connect regularly on the court with with a 22-year old who had already appeared in two All-Star games and who had already agreed to stay in Cleveland for the long term. 

“I’ve never played with a point guard like Kyrie Irving, a guy that can kind of take over a game for himself, when we need it,” James said. 

That’s an overwhelming understatement.     

No offense to Jeff McInnis, Eric Snow, Daniel Gibson, Delonte West, Damon Jones, Mo Williams, Carlos Arroyo, Mike Bibby, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole or any of the other point guards with whom James has spent considerable time on the court over the course of his career.    

But, of that group, only Williams was counted upon to consistently provide offense while playing with James. He placed second on the Cavaliers in scoring average in 2008-09 and ’09-10. McInnis was fourth on the Cavaliers in ’04-05 after missing much of the ’03-04 season, and Chalmers was fourth on the Heat in ’11-12 and ’13-14. Others were much further down the team chart.

Typically, James has played with point guards who primarily served as spot-up shooters and secondary ballhandlers, leaving him largely responsible for initiating and finishing possessions. That renders his alignment with Irving among the Cavaliers’ most compelling storylines. Their collaboration could be cataclysmic for the NBA, if they get it right. Otherwise it could serve to suggest that another, more common model, is preferable: one in which there’s a clearer offensive pecking order between transcendent superstar and point guard.

There haven’t been many wing players anywhere near James’ stratosphere in the past quarter-century. And, whether by roster deficiency or offensive design, few from that esteemed group have played even a single season with a point guard trusted to carry a major percentage of the playmaking and scoring burden. 

One advanced statistic, usage rate, is useful—if not definitivein illustrating this trend. As defined by Basketball-Reference.com, usage rate attempts to quantify the percentage of offensive possessions that a player impacts, or “uses.” Its formula includes three standard measures: field goal attempts, free throw attempts and turnovers. While it is imperfect in assessing playmaking responsibilities, because it does not include touches, passes or assists in its tabulation, it does give a snapshot of a player’s overall offensive involvement. 

It also shows that James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade have not played with especially involved point guards. (Neither, for that matter, did Allen Iverson, unless you classified him as the point guard.)

Start with Jordan, whose primary point guards in Chicago included Ennis Whatley, Wes Matthews Sr., Kyle Macy, John Paxson, Sam Vincent, B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr and former two-guard Ron Harper, who, at that state of his career, concentrated mostly on defense. Jordan’s usage rate ranged from 29.8 percent to 38.6 percent, while the primary point guard on his team ranged from 12.1 percent to 19.3 percent, with Vincent hitting that mark in 1988-89 (Armstrong got up to 19.0 percent in ’94-95). Paxson started all but three of 243 games between ’89 and ’92, and recorded the lowest usage rate among regulars in each of those three seasons. 

Bryant’s point guard partner history, like his speech pattern and baseline fadeaway, resembles Jordan’s.

The Lakers great became a starter in his third season, ’98-99, recording a usage rate of 25.3 percent. He has not been under 29.1 percent since, rising to as high as 38.7 percent in ’05-06, a season he largely spent scowling at Smush Parker. Since Phil Jackson shaped many of Bryant’s teams, it shouldn’t surprise that many of Bryant’s point guards fit the Paxson/Kerr profile. The closest replica was Derek Fisher, whose usage rate was less than half of Bryant’s in five of the six seasons they started together, and always near the bottom of Lakers rotation players. Only twice has a Lakers point guard topped 20 percent in usage rate during the 13 seasons Bryant has regularly started; one was a Hall of Famer (Gary Payton’s rate was 20.4 percent in his one season as a Laker), and the other (Ramon Sessions, 20.5 percent) was a late-season addition. Everyone else, from Derek Harper to Ron Harper to Lindsey Hunter to Chucky Atkins to Jordan Farmar to Fisher to Parker) topped out in the teens. 

Wade? You’ll find similar data. His lowest usage rate (25.0 percent) came when he played point guard as a rookie, soaring to 34.9 percent and 36.2 percent, before tapering some after James’ arrival in Miami in ’10. Chalmers has been his backcourt sidekick for most of the past six seasons, with a career usage rate of 16.5 percent, and a high of 17.4 percent. Jason Williams was Miami’s most active point guard during Wade’s run, and his numbers (18.5 percent and 18.2 percent) weren’t especially high in his two Heat seasons.

Carmelo Anthony diverges from his peers a bit, in that, while pegged as a gunner, he has been paired with some high usage point guards. Andre Miller was right around 20 percent for three of their seasons together in Denver, and Iverson was at 27 percent while playing a lot at the position for a season-and-a-half with the Nuggets. Chauncey Billups was at 21.8 percent, 24.3 percent and 21.4 percent over a three-season span, and Denver thrived with the Billups-Melo combination. (Jeremy Lin was at 28.1 percent for the Knicks in ’11-12, but some of that magical 35-game run came in Anthony’s absence.) 

But the true outlier is Kevin Durant, who has had a lower usage rate than Russell Westbrook in each of the past four seasons—30.6 to 31.6, 31.3 to 32.7, 31.8 to 32.8 and 33.0 to 34.4. And while Durant has reached an NBA Finals, he hasn’t done what Jordan, Bryant, Wade or James did while playing with more subdued, somewhat subservient point guards.

He hasn’t hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy.  

“You look historically, over the last 20-plus years, in terms of teams that have won the championship, very few have had point guards who dominated the ball,” said former pass-first point guard Avery Johnson, who now works for ESPN. “You know, Chauncey Billups did (for Detroit). And the team that won with the Mavericks (in ’11), Jason Kidd a little bit, very little. But it was more guys like J.J. Barea and Jason Terry. So it’s a different game. You look at the Spurs, Tony Parker dominates the ball, but he’s had to learn how to play over the years when (Manu) Ginobili has the ball. Finding his spots. Becoming a better shooter.” 

 


 

So, back to James and Irving. 

Will they instantly become a dynamic duo?

Each may need to sacrifice some.

James’ usage rate has ranged from 28.2 percent to 33.8 percent over his 11 seasons, while his primary point guards have ranged from 10.9 percent to 23.4 percent, with Williams recording the highest and second-highest (22.0 percent) numbers. Snow, Jones, Gibson and even West were generally ornamental, rather than essential, to offensive sets—Snow was last among regulars in usage in both of his seasons as a Cavaliers starter. 

In Miami, James played with a point guard in Chalmers whose usage rate was a bit higher than James’ typical Cavaliers point guard, if not as high as McInnis or Williams. And, of course, James played with an off guard whose usage rate was astronomical compared to any of his Cleveland complements. Wade actually had a higher usage rate than James in their first season together (31.6 to 31.5), before taking a small step back (31.3 to 32.0, 29.5 to 30.2, 27.9 to 31.0) over the next three seasons.

You know whose usage rate was roughly the same as Wade’s each of the past three seasons?

Kyrie Irving.

The Australian import recorded rates of 28.7, 30.2 and 28.2 percent, as he led his Cavaliers in several standard statistical categories but failed to take it to the postseason. (Antawn Jamison was second at 26.2 percent in ’11-12, and Dion Waiters was second at 26.1 and 26.9 percent, respectively, the past two seasons). 

So it is James’ experience with Wade that he will draw most upon now, as he and Irving determine how to divvy up the dribbling, distribution and shooting in new coach David Blatt’s European-style offensive sets. Blatt sounds like a bit like James’ former coach, Erik Spoelstra, in his shunning of specific position definitions; he characterizes Irving, James and even slasher Dion Waiters as “ball guards.” He hopes that Irving’s presence in particular will “take some of the load” off James, “in terms of having to initiate offense, having to bear the brunt of the physical load of getting the ball to places, and [of] making plays for himself and for others. We do have some other guys that can do that, and hopefully that will serve him well, as far as making it easy for him to get some easy ones. But also as the game goes along and the season goes along, to keep him from wearing down. Just because there are other people sharing the load.” 

James grew physically and mentally weary of that burden last season, one made heavier by Wade’s frequent absences. So he doesn’t intend to stifle Irving’s activity or creativity.

“For me, I handle the ball when I get the ball off the backboard,” James said Saturday. “I’m a good rebounder, I like to rebound and I kind of push it from that instance. In certain sets I’ll probably handle the ball a little bit, but it’s Kyrie’s show. He’s our point guard. He’s our floor general and we need him to put us in position to succeed offensively. He has to demand that and command that from us with him handling the ball.”

Yet James did acknowledge that playing together may be more of a work-in-progress for Irving than for himself, “because I just spent four years doing it, playing with D-Wade. We had our adjustment period where we both had to move off the ball. It was something we weren’t comfortable with going into it. My coming here doing it four years in a row where I played off the ball a lot, and I developed my inside game, and I developed my catch-and-shoot jumpshots and things of that nature. So it will be more of an adjustment for him, not for me.”  

Avery Johnson agreed. 

“The biggest adjustment is going to be for Kyrie playing off the ball,” the former Mavericks and Nets coach said. “You look at Kyrie, for the most part here in Cleveland, he’s been on the ball. You look at him this summer with the World Cup team, on the ball. Even playing with some of the other guys like Derrick Rose and Steph Curry, he was on the ball. That’s why he had such a terrific summer.”

Johnson identified Irving’s three-point accuracy as a critical component in Cleveland’s success, after a dip to 36 percent from that distance last season. Cavaliers players, while still acclimating themselves to Blatt’s offensive principles, do expect it to be predicated on ball movement, precision and most of all, spacing.

“So (Irving’s) ability to space the floor and make open shots (is important),” Johnson said. “Because LeBron James is going to draw double teams when he’s posted up, he’s going to get trapped on pick-and-rolls. When he tries to isolate, teams are going to load up or zone. So there are going to be a lot of opportunities with Kyrie on the floor for him to make some plays. I also think that’s why LeBron recruited guys like Mike Miller and James Jones—spacersbecause the game is all about space.” 

Irving will have those players at his disposal, too, when he penetrates. He has sounded positively giddy about all the possibilities, after taking considerable heat for the struggles of limited rosters in his first three seasons. He spoke Friday of being “OK” with “all the things I did kind of terrible” last season, because, as a “young guy figuring it out,” it will help him as he plays with a more veteran group now. He joked about how “weird” it is to be the youngest on the team again, but was serious about his appreciation for the upgraded roster.

“It’s just going to make my job that much easier,” Irving said. “Regardless of what people [are] saying, how my role is going to change, and all the scoring. I mean, I only did the scoring because I was asked to do it. I mean, I had to do it to be in the best possible place to win. And changing my role, it’s not necessarily changing. I’m going to continue to be myself but now that we have other great players, it just creates more space and opportunity for me to make other people better. That’s how I look at it, as an opportunity to grow as a player and as a point guard, and be who I feel I’m destined to be, and that’s a great point guard.”

No doubt he’s a different point guard than James has ever had. Than Bryant has ever had. Than Jordan ever had. But it’s unreasonable to expect James to defer all the time, and especially down the stretch. So how will Irving handle it, when James is handling the ball and triggering the offense? 

“I’ll be ready to shoot every single time,” Irving said, laughing. “If I’m off the ball, I’m ready to shoot. Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to win. Obviously he’s the greatest player playing the game right now, so if he’s on the ball, like I said, I’ll be ready to shoot.”

In those scenarios, that would be his best way to assist.

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @EthanJSkolnick.

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James Harden Admits His Defense Isn’t Very Good, Wants to Improve

Admitting that there is a problem is the first step. Houston Rockets star James Harden has done exactly that, so maybe there is hope for him after all. 

Harden is a great scorer, but he will have trouble working his way to superstardom until he improves his defense. NBA fans love to make fun of the Rockets guard’s “defensive skills.” In fact, there is an 11-minute video dedicated to his lack of defense.

At the Rockets’ media day on Monday, Harden admitted that his defense isn’t very good. Here’s what he said, per the Houston Chronicle’s Jenny Dial Creech:

Jonathan Feigen, also of the Chronicle, tweeted more quotes from Harden:

We will see just how committed Harden is to playing defense once the games get underway this season. The Rockets open the 2014-15 season at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 28. 

[Twitter, h/t That NBA Lottery Pick]

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What in the heck is going on with LeBron James’ hairline?

It was just a few weeks ago that LeBron James’ hair made headlines after magically… Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

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LeBron James’ Cavs open with ‘efficient’ practice

LeBron James was pleased with his first on-court practice under Cavs coach David Blatt.

      
 

 

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James, Love, Irving have first practice together (Yahoo Sports)

INDEPENDENCE, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Kevin Love #0 Kyrie Irving #2 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pose for a photo during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts on September 25, 2014 in Independence, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — All-Stars LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were on the court together for the first time as the Cleveland Cavaliers opened training camp.


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Back in Cleveland, LeBron James Promotes Some Familiar Principles

CLEVELAND — It’s been said that kids say the darnedest things, and kids with famous parents are no exception. So when LeBron James first discussed returning to Northeast Ohio from sweltering South Florida, and not just for the summer, LeBron Jr. and Bryce provided some comedy along with their blessing. 

“I didn’t explain to them. They explained it to me,” James revealed Friday, at his first media day as a member of the Cavaliers since the 2009-10 season. “I was like, ‘What do you think about Daddy going home to play?’ “

Like, Cleveland?

Yes.

“They were like, ‘OK, you get to play with Kyrie Irving?’ “

Yes. 

“They were like, ‘We get to go back home to our house? And I get to go back to my old school and my old friends?’ “

Yes.

“OK, you can do it,” they told him.

James laughed at the recollection. 

“And that’s how it went,” James said.

That anecdote starts this report for two reasons. 

First, it was one of only two sequences during his 13-minute group-interview session in which James cracked a broad smile. The other came at the end, when he joked that he should have written a letter about his weight loss to accompany the one about his free-agency decision, “just to stop the speculation about why I did it.”

(He insisted that he cut many foods from his diet merely to challenge himself, not because he was worried about whether he could still soar above the rim at age 29).

In fact, some of his answers were clipped, and most of his longer ones, either by design or by mood, were rather serious. Most were notable only for his frequent reiteration of Big Three of principles—principles that, perhaps coincidentally or subconsciously, came straight from his former coach Erik Spoelstra’s not-so-super-secret “Spoism” playbook: preparation, patience and process. 

When asked about the unique challenge of this Cavaliers team, James replied: 

“The challenge is that every single day, we have to understand we can’t waste that day. We have to prepare each and every day to month, and if we don’t shortcut the process, we’re going to give ourselves a good chance of competing at the end of the year.

“It’s going to be tough. We are a new group that is coming together, we have a new coaching staff, it’s a new system for all of us and it’s not going to be easy at all. But if we are patient, and we’re patient with the process, and everyone buys into Coach’s system, the coaching staff’s system, it will help us out a lot.”

When asked what he learned from his Miami experience, James offered this: ”Uh, patience. Be very patient with the process—and understanding. Everyone always wants to see the end result and what’s at the end of the tunnel and don’t quite understand what goes on from the start to the finish and what’s in-between that. And I understand that, and I know that. So patience is the biggest thing that I’ve learned.”

As for the former Heat star’s personal expectations, he went beyond explaining, as he typically does, that they are higher than what anyone else has for him. 

“But I’m more patient now than I was four years ago,” he said, bringing to mind a 2010-11 season in which the Heat started 9-8. “I understand what it takes to win a championship. And I understand it’s the hardest thing that you could ever do in your basketball career is to try to win a championship. And I’ve been two up and two down in four years. So I went from crying tears of joy and tears of frustration. Two up, two down.

“So I know. I know it all. I know what it takes. I’m a guy that my expectations are still high, because I believe in this team; I believe in what we can ultimately get to, but I also understand that it won’t be easy. And we can’t try to play November to get to May or get to June right now. We have to go from November to December and the rest of the calendar year just to have a chance.” 

After all of that, it was hard to mistake the message, one that the media are unlikely to heed—since the Cavaliers will surely be scrutinized significantly if they struggle as the 2010-11—but one that seems mostly intended for his youngest new teammates to hear. He wants them to understand the need to work hard from season’s start and work harder if that isn’t enough. 

But now, back to the opening anecdote, the one that made him smile, the one about his two sons who will have a little sister soon.

That story stuck out for another reason: 

James sought others’ input before making a major decision.

It is clear that, when it comes to his old-but-new workplace, he will expect that same collaborative principle to apply—with Cavaliers’ coaches and officials welcoming and even soliciting his suggestions.

While Heat president Pat Riley was adamant in late June that James’ liking of Shabazz Napier wasn’t a primary factor in the Heat selecting the UConn guard (but simply proved that he and James had the same taste in players), Cavaliers GM David Griffin was effusive in his praise of James’ offseason influence: Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones all pointed to James’ presence and interest as a key factor in their coming to Cleveland.

Marion flatly answered “no” when asked if he would have joined the Cavaliers if James hadn’t first, though he added that the Love trade sealed the deal for him. 

Griffin said, “You couldn’t have a better recruiter than LeBron James. And he’s got such an incredible basketball IQ; he’s certainly somebody whom we’re going to share vision with and talk about ideas of where this thing needs to go.

“We’re trying to build a family here. We’re trying to build a culture that’s all about us, and we’re going to take a lot of thoughts into consideration. And, again, when you cut LeBron James loose in the free-agency path, you tend to get results you don’t get otherwise. To say he’s been an amazing partner this offseason would be a gross understatement.”

What about during the season?

On the court?

That may prove to be more of a partnership than a traditional coach-player relationship as well, especially with David Blatt—for all of his overseas success—still an NBA neophyte as the season starts, and thus, somewhat of a mystery in terms of how he’ll approach things stateside. 

“Fortunately I’ve been through the summer league and got a feel for different aspects of the NBA game,” Blatt said Friday. “I’ve yet to be in the multiple-timeout environment. I’ve yet to actually coach in the 48-minute game. I have been through several seasons with close to 80 games, but 82 games in a short span of time that we find in our league is something that does require a special emphasis on sharing minutes and keeping my pulse on the player and the team in terms of load and in terms of fatigue.

“I really think the game of basketball is pretty simple, and, from that aspect, I’m not worried about making the adjustment. But there are a lot of things that go into the NBA game that aren’t like any other league in the world. And I’ll go through my learning curve, and I’ll go through my adjustments, but I certainly feel up to the task.”

James didn’t question that, and sources close to him continue to indicate he’s intrigued by Blatt’s intelligence and creativity. Still, everything’s an unknown until it’s not. 

“I look forward to getting out there (Saturday) to see what system is going to be implemented to our team,” James said. “And as the days go on, and as the weeks go on, as the months go on, I’ll be able to continue to break it down and see how it fits us as a team, how it fits me from a personal standpoint and I’ll be able to give my inputs.”

That will be the give-and-take of this season, as he learns this new team and it learns him. 

He promised to lead by example, by voice, by command and sometimes just by presence.

“That’s what I’m more excited about than anything, is leading these guys every single day,” James said, before later adding, “There’s nothing in this league that I haven’t seen. You name it, I’ve seen it, and that’s on and off the floor. So I have a lot of knowledge to give to those guys.” 

Preparation.

Patience.

Process. 

About this and much else, he won’t be shy to share. 

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.

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