Adversity hit the Cleveland Cavaliers early in the postseason in the form of Victor Oladipo, though that’s nothing new for them this year. Dropping a Game 1 is a rare occurrence for a LeBron James-led team in the first round of the playoffs, but series take time and require four wins, and James is confident the Cavaliers will learn from their mistakes in Game 1.
LeBron has the aura of postseason excellence because he usually reaches another level in the playoffs. But when the losses come, the knives are out for James. He’s lost in five NBA Finals, you know, and that always brings criticism his way.
Former teammate Richard Jefferson went into that dichotomy and what makes James, in his mind, a great teammate when he appeared on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday. Shannon Sharpe asked Jefferson how hard it is playing with LeBron, and Jefferson was honest, saying “it’s not for everyone” and that there are “benchmarks” LeBron shoots for with his statistics and his desire to win above all else.
But Jefferson also said that James is a great teammate, and went into detail about the “camaraderie” that James brings to teams that he’s on.
“He’s the number one camaraderie guy that I’ve ever been around on any level: high school, college NBA. And I’m talking about, I played with Tim Duncan. I played with Dirk (Nowitzki). I played with Jason Kidd. I’ve played with Steph Curry.
Bron is facilitating dinners every single night, getting the guys together. He’ll get a comedy show together with Dave Chappelle or Kevin Hart. These are the things that help break up the monotony of the season. And he does this to let you know like ‘hey if we get into that fire… if I can get dinner with you 3-4 times and we can crack jokes, then when we get into that fire and I yell at you, it’s because we’re brothers. Because we’re in this fire together.’ And that’s something that I haven’t seen from a superstar.”
Jefferson said that “everyone leads in a different way” but indicated that’s how James chooses to lead. The discussion is fascinating because Jefferson has intimate experience with James and the Cavaliers as they’ve won a title together. If the Cavaliers are going to make another run this year, it will be James at the forefront. Now we know a little bit more about how he expects to make things happen this year.