MIAMI — LeBron James sees no reason to enjoy Cleveland’s epic struggles this season.
And it doesn’t give him a sense of vindication, either.
Speaking before the Miami Heat faced the Cavaliers on Monday night, James says Cleveland’s descent from a championship contender to the NBA’s worst team does nothing to prove that he made the right choice in joining up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Florida.
Cleveland entered Monday on a 20-game losing streak and brought an 8-39 record into the contest, the worst mark in the league. With James, the Cavaliers were the among the NBA’s elite, but not even seven months after he made “The Decision,” Cleveland is approaching the league losing-streak record.
“It didn’t matter for me if the Cavs were going to have a successful season or not,” James said. “I felt like I was making the right choice for me as an individual and for my career. Like I said, I have nothing bad to say about the players that I left and the team. I wish the organization the best. And I wish the fans, more than anything, the best because we had a lot of great years together.”
James was with the Cavaliers for seven seasons, vowing to bring a championship to the title-starved city. Cleveland reached the NBA finals once with James, but never hoisted the trophy, and the Akron native decided last summer to accept significantly less money than the Cavaliers were willing to pay in order to sign a six-year deal with Miami.
Monday’s game was the third time Miami and Cleveland have met since James switched uniforms. Unlike the first two, it almost seemed like a regular game instead of having a circus atmosphere.
“The first two were kind of crazy, but now both teams went their separate ways,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “Obviously they’re doing extremely well and we have been hit with the unbelievable injury bug and all kind of other stuff that has happened. I think it is just a game right now and I think that’s how both teams look at it.”
James agreed, noting that Cleveland has been hit with more injuries than even Miami – which has been without him, Wade and Bosh at times of late, plus have a number of other hobbled players.
Cleveland entered Monday three losses shy of tying the single-season NBA futility record shared by the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies and 1997-98 Denver Nuggets. Overall, the Cavaliers came into the Miami game having lost 30 of their last 31 games, along with 23 straight on the road.
Cleveland’s franchise already owns the all-time NBA losing-streak record, a 24-game slide that spanned from March to November 1982.
“We just keep fighting. That’s all you can do,” Scott said. “You’ve got two choices, either you’re going to fight or you’re going to lay down. I don’t think we have any guys that will just lay down. We don’t on the coaching staff. So we’re just going to keep fighting and keep working every day.”
The Cavaliers’ injury woes are so pronounced, James doesn’t even have a sense of familiarity with most of the roster anymore. Most of the key teammates he had in Cleveland a year ago – Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Shaquille O’Neal – are either hurt, playing for another team, or in the case of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, running alongside him in Miami.
“It’s strange. … They’re going through a lot of struggles right now,” James said.
Like Scott, he said he appreciated that Monday wasn’t the sort of spectacle that his return to Cleveland was in early December.
“After the first one, it couldn’t get any worse,” James said. “Or better, depending on the situation. I’m happy that at this point in the season, we’re playing some good ball, whether it’s against the Cavs or whatever.”
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