LeBron: 'I've played a little passive'

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Thursday, November 6, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- LeBron James admits to being "passive" in the Cleveland Cavaliers' two losses in the early season compared to how he played in the team's lone win.

However, James said it won't help his team in the long run if he simply chooses to carry them to victories in the interim.

"It's a fine line," James said before the Cavs' third loss of the season, 102-100 to theUtah Jazz on Wednesday. "I've had two games where I've played a little passive and been more of a set-up guy and it's resulted in two losses. And I've had a game where I've been very aggressive and we won. Is winning the ultimate thing? Or us being the best (team) we can be (as a whole) or winning one game? It's something that's going on in my mind right now, I'm trying to figure out. I definitely can't go into a game having 12 shot attempts. That's me personally."

In losses to New York and Portland James averaged 14.0 points on 13.5 shots per game. He was a different animal in the Cavs' lone win, scoring 36 on 30 shot attempts against Chicago.

While Cleveland coach David Blatt said it was the team's responsibility, not James', to get the four-time MVP more involved in the offense with better opportunities, he also said James' aggressive approach against the Bulls was "more of what we need," than him deferring.

James looked so off his game in the Cavs' 101-82 loss to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday that some questioned whether he was healthy or not. His back had bothered him during training camp, causing him to sit out several games and practices. Yet he claims his health isn't a factor in the Cavs' choppy start.

"I'm in the lineup," James said. "I'm good."

James let his frustration be known after the loss to the Blazers, citing "bad habits" by his teammates that needed to be worked on. While he shared his thoughts with reporters, he didn't go as far as to seek out individual teammates to talk things through. James was presumably referring to the Cavs backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who combined to shoot 6-for-28 against Portland. Waiters came off the bench for the first time all season against Utah, with Shawn Marion getting the start in his place.

"I don't know if the guys saw (my quotes) but I continue to preach it and they will get it," James said. "No need (to address them). Coach had enough and said enough and everyone gave their two cents. It's not the time for it."

Blatt said he didn't see James' comments to the press, but had an idea of the point his superstar was trying to make.

"I think what he's referring to is just having a winning tradition to hang your hat on and to be able to get through things because of that," Blatt said. "I really think that's what he's referring to more than anything else."

Blatt was asked how he planned to break the bad habits that James was referring to.

"You got kids? Then you know the answer," Blatt said to a reporter. "I got four, I taught a lot of them. You watch. You show. You speak. You use examples. You hug. You never hit. But you do admonish. How's that?"

When asked if he is on the same page as his coach, James said "I would hope," but added that he didn't confer with Blatt before offering up his assessment of what is ailing the Cavs so far.

"I didn't look for his guidance," James said. "I just spoke what I believe in and what I think will help our team in the long run."

James continued to spread his message before the Jazz game.

"The day-to-day process will be a as good or as bad as we want it to be depending on how much we buy in," he said.

Both coach and player found themselves comparing the Cavs' current quandary to what the Miami Heat went through four years ago in James' maiden season in South Beach.

"When you have a lot of new players - particularly a lot of new, very talented players - sometimes it's a little harder to put together," Blatt said. "If you look historically, that's sort of been the case in many of these situations.

"You don't have to go back very far just to look at Miami."

James said there was one major distinction between the scrutiny the Heat received back in 2010-11 and what the Cavs are experiencing now, however.

"More anger behind the questions (in Miami)," James said, looking around at the throng of reporters assembled in front of him. "Absolutely."

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