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LeBron James has never missed a season opener, but that streak could come to an end because of a nagging left ankle injury.
According to the Associated Press (h/t NBA.com), the three-time NBA champion tested his ankle during Sunday’s practice, but it is still unknown whether James will suit up Tuesday, Oct. 17, when the Cleveland Cavaliers play host to the Boston Celtics.
Cleveland fans who are upset that James might not be on the court to face former teammate Kyrie Irving should take heart, though, because James is probably more upset about it than anyone else.
“Pretty mad, pretty pissed off,” head coach Tyronn Lue said, per the Associated Press’ Tom Withers (h/t NBA.com) last week, citing that James’ is upset that his ankle is still an issue. “But I mean, it is what it is.”
James sprained his ankle in practice on Sept. 27 and aggravated the injury in the game against the Chicago Bulls when he made a spin move into the lane on his way to the basket.
In order to rest his ankle, the Cavs kept James out of the the final preseason game against the Orlando Magic and, according to coach Lue, the team will monitor it as the highly anticipated matchup against Irving approaches.
“He’s got to see how it feels,” Lue said. “Getting treatment, work it the right way and see what happens.”
James is beside himself, but Lue still found room for a joke about his best player’s apparent pivot from indestructibility.
“He’s getting older, like me,” Lue said. “It’s something that he’s been trying to work on. He tried to come back and play and he might have tweaked it on that spin move, and that could have set him back a little bit.”
Cavs in Better Position to Win Without James
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James is still widely considered the best player in the world, so it’s no surprise that, in the three seasons since he’s returned to Cleveland, the Cavs have had a losing record without him on the floor—they are 4-23 and have lost 11 consecutive regular-season games.
And with James in doubt for the season opener due to an ankle injury, fans might think that head coach Lue is worried that history will repeat itself.
“I think we’ll be a lot better off,” Lue said, per Cleveland.com‘s Joe Vardon. “I think we got a lot of different pieces.”
Lue is referring to the bevy of players that joined the Cavs this offseason. Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder—all starters—played well without James in training camp, giving the team a better chance at winning when James is out of the lineup.
“We’re deeper,” Lue said. “A lot of versatile players. A lot of different lineups we can play. So, it will be different, but I think we have a better chance, yes.”
Wade Almost Signed With Lakers
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According to Caron Butler‘s interview with TMZ, before Flash chose to reunite with his best bud in Cleveland, he was close to signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers and, surprisingly, the Miami Heat.
Butler offered reasons for the alternatives, citing that L.A. would have been good for wife Gabrielle Union’s career, OKC was for basketball reasons and Miami would have been like going home.
In the end, Butler believes Wade chose wisely because he will help LBJ and the Cavs get back to the NBA Finals this season.