With the Cleveland Cavaliers media day ending at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence, Ohio a few hours ago, I’m sitting her wondering what to make of it all.
As Mo Williams said, there are no TNT trailers or ESPN trailers here, but George Smith of ESPN was there. Got to recognize George. He does work.
Anyway, the buzz was about the obvious. Life without LeBron James.
“There is no LeBron in this building,” Williams said. “Whether we believe it or not, he’s not coming back, you know. This is what we got.”
Cleveland coach Byron Scott said he’s moving on and is excited about running the players into the ground in training camp. He said he’s putting trash cans around the court for those who need to lose their lunch.
He also said the players should be “pissed” about people saying they’re not going to win without James, the two-time NBA MVP from Akron who left Cleveland this summer to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
Heard the Heat had a press conference at 2 p.m., which was the same time the Cavs got started. The thing the players and Scott are asking the fans is to be patient.
Hard for fans to do that when the owner, Dan Gilbert, got them all stirred up by saying the Cavaliers will win a title without James before Miami does with James and the Heat are favored to win it all this season, but that’s another story to tell later.
But let’s get back to Mo Williams. It was classic Mo today.
First off, a reporter asked him a question and called him LeBron.
“Do I look like? Maan! Whoa,” replied a laughing Williams.
Second, he said, “We’ve got enough doubters around us and we definitely don’t need it in our same city.”
Third, he said James didn’t quit in the playoffs as Gilbert said in his letter to Cleveland fans that ripped James like Wolverine shreds enemies.
“This game is too competitive to quit. We’re not playing checkers. This is basketball and when you play this game long enough, and anybody that is competitive understands no matter what’s going on with you, people just don’t quit. I don’t care who you are.”
Williams said he’ll be ready for the season as he’ll have limited work due to a groin injury, but he opened his media session clarifying the story my man from Yahoo! Sports, Marc Spears, wrote about Williams pondering retirement from the NBA when James bolted for South Beach.
“Retiring? Yeah, at some point I’m going to retire. I think going into my eighth season, I would consider myself more than 50 percent done with my career. So at some point, you’ve got to think about what you’re going to do after you play the game and that’s what I was pertaining to. It makes no sense for me with (three) years left on my deal to give money I felt I’ve earned back. It don’t make sense. The article wasn’t even about me retiring so it kind of got blown out of proportion.”
Williams talked about receiving messages on his Twitter account, but he replied to one that said he makes too much money to worry about James leaving.
Williams got emotional.
“You can’t control where you heart at. It’s not about how much I get paid in a situation. It’s like the average fan that goes to work every day. I felt the same pain they felt. To me, to let my emotions go, yes my voice is going to heard more than theirs will. They’re voicing the same frustrations at work every day just like I am. Mine is going to be out more than theirs, but I felt the same exact pain. I pay the same exact taxes they pay. I feel the same love for this organization, this team as they do. So yes, it was a time where, I felt that same pain, but at the same time, when you get here and get around this organization and this new team and these new coaches, you get excited, you know. You get to turn things around and start something new.”
Williams also said people don’t care about Cleveland and feel no sorrow for the Cavaliers. Antawn Jamison essentially said no one is going to feel sorry for them, but when Williams says it, it just feels more emotional.
“For every fan that supported us when we were selling out every night. When we knew we were going to beat teams by 20. Or we knew we had a chance to win a championship from Day 1. We got to to get that same support every single night because we’re going to need them more than ever.”
Williams then began to make these analogies about getting close to the water on a beach and feel the water “on your toes” and your mom pull you back. In essence, he’s saying the Cavaliers were close to winning a title and James leaving took away that opportunity.
“She take you back to the top and you just looking at her like, wow, I was almost there. She turned her head for a second and I was almost at the water.”
Williams said he told James “good luck” at the airport when the two crossed paths.
“We can talk about him all we want, man, but he’s a great basketball player at the end of the day. So you wish him the best.”
Then Williams was asked point blank if he was over this. He came up with another analogy.
“That’s a big word. If that makes sense. At some point, you’ve just got to turn the corner. You just got turn the corner. You’re walking down this long hall. Everybody been to high school before. You in this classroom all the way down the hall and you’ve got to get all the way to the other side of the hall. This hall looks like it’s so long, but once you turn the corner, you can’t see that hall anymore. I think right now, today, we’re turning that corner and going to our next classroom and we can’t see nothing but forward now.”
Williams also said guys like Jamison didn’t want to “rock the boat” last year and just tried to fit in after he came to Cleveland in a trade before the trade deadline. He said Jamison can now be a leader and continued to say there is enough experience and talent for the Cavaliers to be a “scary basketball team.”
“It’s fun to be doubted.”
Williams said it’s understandable people having low expectations of them, but followed that up by saying, “games decide where you’re at as far as standings and what seed you are in the playoffs. We don’t get seeded off what people write or what people think today.”
Then Mo flipped script on a reporter who asked him if Cleveland couldn’t win a title with the two-time MVP, how are the Cavaliers going to win one without him.
“Well, (the Los Angeles Lakers) did it without him. Did it two years without him.”
Reporter: They had Kobe.”
Mo: “He wasn’t the MVP. You said two-time MVP.”
Laughs followed, but Williams’ final comments came after being asked if he’s too emotional.
“I am. That’s the honest truth. I’m an emotional guy. I don’t hold it and then sometimes people can get it and run with and kind of write their own perception of the what I’m saying. My mom talked to me about it. My wife. She beat me up about it, but you are who you are. Emotional. I wear my emotions and heart on my sleeve. I’ve always been like that. I always will. Won’t change. Sometimes try to watch what I say, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it that way. If I say what I say and it get across the right way, hopefully it does. Hopefully I’ve made the right impression to you guys that you understand me more and more that you kind of understand what I’m saying or trying to say if I don’t say it right, but you will have those few people that are obviously in the business of writing stories. That it makes a better story. I know what you meant, but I can write it this way. So you get in those situations also and it’s unfortunate, but I accept that because I can go home and feel good about how I expressed myself. I know somebody understood what i said or what I meant.”