James happily added to his list of superstars he’d love to theoretically team up with:
“Ask me if I’d like to play with Jimmy Butler,” James told reporters Friday night in Los Angeles. “Say it right now. Ask me about Kyrie Irving, Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Ask me about [Joel] Embiid, Ben Simmons. Go ahead, all of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now.
“Come on, guys, this is not rocket science. These are great players. Absolutely. I would love to play with a lot of great players. That is just who I am. People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can’t control me, at all.
“And I play by the rules.”
New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, meanwhile, says James is clearly “tampering” with AD.
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) December 21, 2018
Per the LA Times:
“No, we’re not trading him,” Gentry said. “We’re not trading him under any circumstance. You can move on from that one.”
Did he think what James said was tampering?
“Yes, it is,” Gentry said. “Why would it not be?”
Though the official rules on tampering don’t indicate a distinction depending on who utters the offending words, the league has repeatedly said context affects its view on whether something qualifies as tampering.
“Each case is assessed on its own facts,” league spokesman Tim Frank said in an email. “In general, absent evidence of team coordination or other aggravating factors, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team’s player.”
Gentry’s response to that logic?
“Of course they did,” Gentry said. “What else are they going to say? If an executive said it, would it be tampering? … It’s tampering, OK? It’s tampering. So should we start having AD say, ‘Why don’t we trade for LeBron?’” Added Gentry: “I thought if you talk about a player under contract, that’s tampering. That’s just me. I’ve only been in the league 31 years.”