While a dark cloud hung over all of Cleveland today, LeBron James calmly embarked on another day of practice with his teammates.
When asked by reporters why he was so carefree after an embarrassing 32 point defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics, James grinned.
“They got me.”
The King confidently spoke to reporters after coming off one of the worst losses of his career. He shot a pedestrian 3 for 14 from the field, and stood around in a spectator-like funk as his team got blown out 120-88 Tuesday night.
His Cleveland Cavaliers now trail the best-of-seven series 2-3.
After the humiliating defeat, the media went wild. James’ lackadaisical play in particular drew the ire of the Cleveland forward’s fans and detractors alike.
“I spoil a lot of people with my play.”
James does generally spoil observers with his play, but he managed to sidestep that landmine last night when his team suffered their worst loss in playoff history.
To make matters worse, Cavaliers fans are now left to wonder whether they will ever see James as a member of their team again. The two-time MVP can leave Cleveland as a free agent on July 1.
The off season is the furthest thing from James’ mind, though.
“It’s win or go home at this point,” he said. “All these guys understand what’s at stake and we look forward to it.”
During practice, his mood was jovial. James gave his teammates instructions and directions as they ran plays, and then engaged in a shooting contest before the end of practice. At one point during the friendly competition, he joked that he needed a handicap because of his injured elbow.
James’ lighthearted attitude during practice was a far cry from his body language during Game 5. The usually hyperactive do-it-all man for the Cavs only had four shots in the first half, and didn’t make his first field goal until late in the third quarter.
When asked about if he was disappointed in his play the night before, James shook his head, explaining that it was just an “off” night.
“Me? Personally? Nah, I’m not disappointed. I’m never disappointed in my play. I feel like I could do more, but I’m not disappointed at all…It’s just who I am…I’m not going to show you that I’m angry. If I show a sense of panic, guys follow my lead. If I come over here and panic and say, ‘We lost by 30 and we don’t know what to do.’ That’s not right. It’s not who I am. It’s never been who I am.”
The Cavaliers have been outplayed by the Celtics for the majority of the series.
Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, had this to say regarding the James and his team:
“The entire franchise has done everything in its power to put all our players and its coaching staff in the best possible positions to execute when it counts…The last two home playoff losses and the manner in which we lost these game does not come close to being anywhere near the high expectations all of us have of our organization. Our fans and supporters deserve more.”
James heard the criticism loud and clear, but he does not necessarily agree with it.
“I don’t get involved in what owners say,” he said. “That’s how he feels. As players, we go out there and it’s not like we’re not giving a great effort or trying to play hard. It’s not like we go out in a game and say, ‘Let’s not play hard for the fans.’ When you lose bad like that, we hurt just as much as they hurt. But as professionals, we’ve just got to play a little better.”
The Cavs now have to travel to Boston for Game 6, but the idea of winning on the road doesn’t faze James. He scored 38 points in Boston for Cleveland’s dominating Game 3 victory just a week ago.
“I just need to play well,” he said. “It’s not just me. It’s everyone. I put a lot of pressure on me, of course. That’s just the type of player I am and that’s how I hold myself accountable…I need one of those games and I look forward to having one.”