Injuries derailed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA title chase last season, and despite LeBron James’ superhuman efforts, he was unable to single-handedly carry them past the champion Golden State Warriors.
The Cavs are starting the 2015-16 campaign once again beset by a rash of injuries, but LeBron is confident that he won’t have to shoulder such a heavy burden going forward.
James, who’s counting on Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to have monster years, says last season’s painful experience has taught his teammates what it takes to reach the mountaintop.
“I will lead this team, but I don’t have to carry it,” James said before shootaround as the Cavs prepared to play the Atlanta Hawks in their preseason opener at Xavier University on Wednesday night. “We have enough guys until all our guys get here. Until Kyrie [Irving] and Tristan [Thompson] and [Iman Shumpert] is ready, we have enough guys that will all help. It’s not about me carrying the team and that nature. We’re all grown men, we’re all professionals and they’re here to do their job.”
James is already doing his part to prepare J.R. Smith for the season opener vs. Chicago on Oct. 27. The pair showed up an hour before Wednesday’s shootaround to get shots up before the rest of the team arrived. It’s a tradition the two started in the postseason last spring. […] “Just trying to get better,” James explained. “It’s all about repetition. In order to try to be as good as you can, it’s about getting on the floor and getting extra work in. And that’s what we do. Myself and J.R., we got some chemistry. We got some great chemistry and we just try to give it our all.”
“I think just as far as a franchise and how we carry ourselves every day is a lot different,” James said. “Last year at the start of the season, I don’t think people saw the vision and didn’t understand the process. I think guys do now. We know how important every practice, every day is for us to get better. […] And until we’re whole, we still won’t understand it as a full unit. But we’ll approach the game as we should and our coaching staff is going to prepare us the best way every night to be ready for anything, both on and off the floor.”