CLEVELAND (CBSNewYork/AP) — LeBron James ended the year with a night off for his sore left knee and an assurance that he has no plans to run away from the Cavaliers.
James missed his second straight game Wednesday, and said his knee has been bothering him since before Christmas. The superstar also sat out Tuesday’s game in Atlanta on his 30th birthday.
James said tests have been negative, and he joked that he’s got a lot of wear and tear on his joints after 11 seasons in the NBA.
“I’ve got 41,000 minutes on me, including the playoffs,” he said, cracking a smile. “You drive that car in the winter time.”
The Cavs, who have dropped two straight and three of four, also were without starting forward Kevin Love (back spasms) and forward Shawn Marion (sprained ankle) for their game with the Bucks.
James’ injury is the latest piece of news in a turbulent week which began with a report that there was concern within the Cavs’ organization that first-year coach David Blatt was not connecting with his players. Both James and Kyrie Irving dismissed the ESPN report, which cited unnamed sources, but the team’s struggles haven’t helped Blatt’s transition to the NBA.
On Tuesday, Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com wrote: “Given the massive scrutiny he would endure if he departed Cleveland a second time, if his hand is forced, I’m told he won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting.”
Then on Wednesday, a video of James and former teammates Dwyane Wade following Cleveland’s game on Christmas Day began making the rounds. In it, James appears to tell his former Miami teammate that “if things aren’t better this year, we’re gonna reunite again and do some bigger and better things, all right?”
Before sitting out against the Bucks, James called the hubbub over the video “outlandish” and made it clear he’s not planning any moves.
“I’ve seen that video too,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what I said, but I know it had nothing to do about basketball. I wouldn’t say that on Christmas, in front of cameras. That (conversation) had nothing to do with me leaving here. I didn’t go to college, but I’m not stupid,” he said. “If I would have said something, I would have said it the (previous) night to D-Wade.
“I’m here now and I’m here to build something in the future.”
James re-signed as a free agent with Cleveland this summer after spending four seasons in Miami, where he won two NBA titles and went to four straight Finals. Since his emotional return to Ohio, James has said several times that he intends to finish his career with the Cavaliers.
Blatt believes the four-time MVP is dedicated long-term to Cleveland.
“I know why LeBron James came back to Cleveland and I know what his commitment is to this team and to his teammates,” Blatt said. “And I also know exactly what he wants to do here.”
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