LeBron James downplays significance of preseason game against Miami Heat
It’s extremely rare — if even possible — for an NBA preseason game to rise even remotely to the level of must-see basketball action. But when the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers take a court in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, an inconsequential exhibition match-up has much more significance and is being greeted with a lot more anticipation than perhaps any NBA preseason game before it.
The game in Brazil this weekend of course will be the first time LeBron James takes the court against the Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat as a member of the Cavs, on the exact three-month mark from when LeBron announced he was taking his talents away from South Beach and back to Ohio.
James, for one, doesn’t think much of it, or at least said he doesn’t, indicating it is nothing more than a game the Cavaliers can use to prepare for the grind of the 2014-15 NBA season, especially given that the game is occurring on a neutral court thousands of miles away from both Cleveland and Miami.
“It’s not much of an issue for me going up against Miami, I think,” James told ESPN.com. “It’s a preseason game. It’s in Brazil so it’s not really on an NBA floor, as well. But it gives us an opportunity to keep on continuing to broaden the game in a huge, worldwide aspect and it will be great for both teams.”
Cavs head coach David Blatt, in the first of many times he will have to temper expectations and quell hype this season, downplayed the game as well.
“I think everybody is very cognizant of the fact that LeBron is playing against his old team and playing against a team where he had such great success and they had such great success, and I’m sure they understand that it’s a particular kind of game,” he said.
While the game will be nationally televised in the U.S., the foreign locale will nevertheless alter the perception of the game, so says Blatt.
“I think it takes the pressure off of both sides, actually,” he said. “I really do.”
All this comes at the same time when Chris Bosh said that he hasn’t even spoken to James since the man who led the Heat to two NBA titles skipped town and left the Big Three and Less Formidable Two.
When asked if he was looking forward to seeing James again, Bosh was noncommittal at best.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” Bosh said, via Sporting News. “I mean I’m in the mode right now where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here. I don’t have much time to really think [about it].
If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them, if any.”
Regardless of what any of the parties says, it is sure to be something of an awkward moment when the teams step onto the court and conduct the pregame handshakes, if not before.
But as far as the game containing any extra emotion or added tension due to the notion that somehow this exhibition game means more than, well, nothing, simply due to the fact that one of the players on the court switched teams in the offseason, odds are it will not.
That may change down the line, though, when the games begin to count. Even more so when James makes his return to Miami, which the NBA schedule makers conveniently set for Christmas, the league’s annual holiday showcase day. That’s when it will be learned just how much antagonism for LeBron inhabits the hearts of D-Wade, Bosh, the rest of the roster who remain on the team from LeBron’s time in Miami, and perhaps especially, the Heat fans.
Scratch that, everyone knows how Heat fans feel about LeBron. But it nevertheless will be a scene to behold when Heat fans unleash their vitriol upon their once and departed king.