CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Cavaliers aren’t just any team on the schedule for LeBron James.
Even if just two players remain from the Cavs 2016 NBA championship team – Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova.
James also played part of his last season in Cleveland with Larry Nance Jr., who was acquired in early February 2018 as well as Cedi Osman, acquired by the Cavs in a 2015 trade and made his debut in 2017 giving the four-time NBA champion plenty of reason to tune in when he can.
“I still watch them because I still have a couple teammates on the team and like a little brother to me [is] on the team as well in Darius Garland,” James said. “Obviously Kev is still here. Cedi is one of my, obviously you guys know my relationship with Cedi. I love that kid so much. I got an opportunity to play with Larry Jr. as well. And then the staff. I didn’t play for coach J.B. but a lot of their staff members are still over there as well that I spent a lot of years with.”
Garland and James are close thanks to their mutual relationship with Klutch Sports and super-agent Rich Paul.
The memories and respect James has for his former employer remain from the day he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2003 to hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June 2016.
“To know what happened before I got here in 2003 to see the franchise and the condition it was in, for us to just build and build and build and build all the way until 2016 to when we were able to deliver a championship to this city, to this franchise, it’s something I will always remember,” James said. “[There’s] a lot of things you’re going to forget throughout your life, because of old age or moment wasn’t as great or you’ve had some many other great moments, but the moments I spent here and the championship we had in ’16 and me being drafted here are moments I won’t ever forget.
“I would be unhuman, even though you guys probably think I am unhuman the way I play the game, but emotionally it’s still there, always.”
Although James is gone, the relationships remain from the locker room and front office all the way down to Cavs equipment manager Mark “Cobra” Cashman, who James called “the greatest equipment guy in the world” and said, “I love that guy.”
James’ departure for Los Angles in 2018 once again left the Cavs in ruins.
After winning at least 50 games in four seasons with James after he returned from Miami, the Cavs went 19-63 in the 2018-19 season and followed it up with a 19-46 pandemic-shortened campaign last year without him.
The organization has slowly found its footing and the team is 8-9 following Monday night’s 115-108 loss to James and the Lakers that required James to score 21 of his season-high 46 in the fourth quarter to hold off the scrappy Cavs.
A night after getting blown off the floor in Boston, Cleveland rallied from 14 down to take the lead in the second half and only trailed James and the Lakers by 3 with just under 2 minutes to play before LA pulled away.
Even as James watches occasionally from afar, he can see what general manager Koby Altman and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff are trying to build in his absence.
“I always pay close attention to what’s going on and I think J.B. has done a hell of a job,” James said. “They’ve been drafting well and made a couple of trades. You can tell that team is improving. They’ve got some young guards that [are] very dynamic in Collin and Darius.
“They’ve got some young pieces they can put their future behind, so we’ll see what happens.”