LeBron James and the Cavs won a thrilling double overtime game against the Pacers on Sunday night, 135-130, as James managed to outduel Paul George in the end with a 41-point triple double to lift Cleveland to the win.
Despite James’ tremendous individual performance, not everyone on the team was pleased with him late in the game. Tristan Thompson ripped into James on the bench as they came off the floor after a timeout in a heated exchange that was far more than a normal in-game argument.
The argument seemed to be over James getting on Thompson on the court after he was not pleased with Thompson’s defensive effort on a play that resulted in a Paul George three. It’s rare to see any teammate fire back at LeBron, but it’s clear that Thompson had felt James went too far in ripping him on the court.
After the game, James apologized for the incident and accepted full responsibility, saying he needs to be much better about not going after teammates on the court and keeping those conversations and arguments behind closed doors.
“I’ve got to do a better job of not showing up my teammates out on the floor,” said James. “I had the right intentions in my mind, but the wrong intentions came out of my mouth. So, I take full responsibility for that as the leader of the team. I can be a lot better than that, and be able to keep that in house in the locker room and when we’re watching film.”
James seemed legitimately apologetic and likely offered a similar sentiment to Thompson privately later. James, like most all-time greats, has a propensity for demanding perfection from teammates and gets upset when they don’t deliver to his standards. With Thompson, it’s not as though he regularly responds to James’ criticism poorly.
After James called into question the toughness of his teammates, Thompson said it was something he needed to work on. However, Thompson felt James crossed a line on Sunday night and wasn’t going to let that pass without making his objections known. His message was heard by James, who accepted responsibility and is ready to move one. I don’t expect this to linger, and the only person still mad about this situation is probably Mario Chalmers, who would’ve liked to know years ago that you could yell back at James.