LeBron increases workouts amidst acknowledged conditioning concern

Though a cursory glance affirms that LeBron James still ranks among the fittest people on the planet today, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward feels there's much work to be done in regards to his current physical condition.

After missing all but one preseason game while tending to minor injuries, James intends to use the Cavaliers' next run of games to work his way back to peak shape, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

"I just want to get to where I should be," James told ESPN on Thursday. "The ankle and the foot injury just kind of kept me out and set me back further than I would like, but I got some time now along the course of these games that we got. We got two back-to-backs coming up, so that's going to help and we have some opportunity to get some practice time in as well."

After Tuesday’s season-opening victory over the Boston Celtics, James was candid about his desire to improve his conditioning, telling TNT’s Kristen Ledlow he was “very out of shape for (his) expectations, and rightfully so.”

In nearly the immediate aftermath of the Cavaliers' loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2017 Finals, James began posting videos of his rigorous summer workout regimen. That fervor has continued into the regular season, as James has pulled in fellow veteran teammates like Dwyane Wade into additional pre-practice and postgame workouts, per ESPN.

Head coach Tyronn Lue concurred with James’ assessment.

“Shorter training camp it does hurt you as far as conditioning,” Lue said. “When you have an older team that’s been around for a long time, you can’t really practice and condition the way you want to. (It’s) going to take some time to get into shape and get in game shape.”

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LeBron: Kyrie boos were ‘nothing’ compared to what I’ve experienced

Try harder, Cavaliers fans.

Kyrie Irving made his highly anticipated return to Cleveland on Tuesday night as a member of the Boston Celtics and was booed during player introductions and at times when he touched the ball.

LeBron James has seen worse.

“I’ve experienced big boos before,” the Cavs superstar said postgame, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “That was like a pat on the back. I love our fans to death. That was nothing.”

When James returned to Cleveland for the first time in 2010 as a member of the Miami Heat, he was met with fierce resentment over his decision to team up with his superstar friends in South Beach.

“People were throwing batteries at us,” the four-time MVP recently recalled.

Irving demanded a trade this offseason to get out of James’ shadow and become the main option on another team. He recently referred to his new NBA home as a “real, live sports city.”

The point guard racked up 22 points, 10 assists, and four rebounds Tuesday, but missed a potential game-tying three over James. The former co-stars embraced afterward.

“Any time you win a championship with someone, you automatically think about the moments, the memories, especially with someone who was instrumental to what we were able to accomplish,” James said following Cleveland’s 102-99 victory. “Once the ball went up, it was kind of back to the regularly scheduled programming.”

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Watch: Kyrie embraces LeBron after missing game-tying 3-pointer at buzzer

The NBA’s season opener between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena came down to the wire Tuesday, with Kyrie Irving‘s 3-pointer at the end of regulation falling well short of the mark, giving the 102-99 victory to the hometown Cavaliers.

After the final buzzer, Irving and LeBron James embraced near the sideline, patting each other on the head.

While Irving’s trade demand was sudden and unexpected, there’s still love between him and his former teammates; that includes James, who was part of the reason why Irving decided it was time for a change of scenery.

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LeBron says he’s ‘very out of shape’ after near triple-double

LeBron James was brilliant as always to open his 15th NBA campaign.

The King scored 29 points, snagged 16 rebounds, and dropped nine assists on 12-of-19 shooting to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory against the Boston Celtics on opening night.

That performance would be a career night for most players in the league, but James only sees room for improvement.

"I'm out of shape. Very out of shape for my expectations, and rightfully so," James told TNT reporter Kristen Ledlow in the postgame interview.

“I haven’t been able to play throughout the preseason. I played one game, re-injured my ankle. I don’t like where I’m at right now. But, you know, we got some practice. These games are going to help me out.”

James posted several videos of himself working out in the offseason, but he hit a snag after picking up an ankle injury in training camp. He only appeared in one preseason contest, where he recorded eight turnovers.

He was noticeably a step slow Tuesday, but even a hobbled version of James was enough to take over in the fourth. He recorded two clutch layups, a cross-court assist for three, and made a crucial steal to clinch the win for Cleveland.

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LeBron: Scar didn’t ‘heal right’ after hitting camera in ’15 Finals

Warning: Story contains coarse language

It was one of the more iconic images of the 2015 NBA Finals: LeBron James smacking his head into a courtside camera in Game 4 after being fouled by Golden State’s Andrew Bogut.

LeBron suffered a nasty gash, and at the time was supposed to get stitches. He didn’t, though, and two-plus years later he described the incident to GQ’s Mark Anthony Green.

"Actually this was just glue," James said of the still-visible wound. "It was going to be staples, but I told them, 'Don't f-cking staple my head.' And they put in the glue, and it didn't heal right. We kept this one under wraps, though."

James’ performance in a losing effort in those 2015 Finals was one for the ages. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both out, his usage rate was a ludicrous 40.8 percent in the series, one in which he led all scorers at almost 36 points per game.

James was banged up too, but as he said, “I don’t talk about injuries.”

The collision also ended up being the impetus for the NBA reducing baseline cameras and removing sideline cameras entirely.

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LeBron: Kyrie won’t face same hostility I did in Cleveland return

LeBron James remembers the hostile environment he entered into on Dec. 2, 2010 when he returned to Quicken Loans Arena for the first time after choosing to sign with the Miami Heat over his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving likely won’t be well-received either Tuesday when the Cavaliers host the visiting Boston Celtics to open the 2017-18 season. Will it be on par with the venomous reaction James got seven years ago, though?

“No,” James said emphatically during a joint interview with Dwyane Wade conducted by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

“Everybody’s good. Everybody’s good. “KD (Kevin Durant) last year in Oklahoma City, Paul George going to go back to Indiana, you know, D-Wade’s going to go to Chicago, Kyrie’s coming back to Cleveland. No (it won’t compare).”

With Irving, the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals in each of the past three seasons, ending the city's championship drought in 2016 by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors. He then asked management for a trade this summer so he could be afforded the opportunity to lead his own team, something he expected to do in Cleveland prior to James making his way back.

Related – Hayward: Celtics want to play well for Kyrie vs. Cavaliers

His departure was messy once reports circulated that he wanted out, but compared to what James endured, Irving's return Tuesday should be tame.

“They will be fine,” James said of Irving and his new squad. “People were throwing batteries at us.”

The Cavaliers are reportedly planning on airing a tribute video for Irving at some point during the night, which may go a long way in soothing the souls of disgruntled supporters.

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Wade: LeBron ‘loves it’ in Cleveland

Any sign that LeBron James is content with being a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers is a major positive when factoring in his unrestricted free agency next summer.

Dwyane Wade – who joined the Cavaliers last month after being bought out by the Chicago Bulls – has a longstanding friendship with James, and perhaps knows him better than anyone on the roster.

“I think he loves it here,” said Wade to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.

“I could see his mood and being around these guys and everyone that’s here. Obviously we’ve gotta win ball games, everything’s gotta go right and we gotta stay together to continue to have that mood, but right now he’s in a great place.”

The cloud hanging over Cleveland that was Kyrie Irving's trade request quickly subsided when he was shipped off to the Boston Celtics, bringing back a king's ransom of assets in his stead. The additions of Isaiah Thomas (expected to return from a hip injury in January), Jae Crowder, and Ante Zizic, along with other offseason acquisitions in Wade, Jeff Green, and former league MVP Derrick Rose, provides James with undoubtedly the deepest and most varied roster he's ever had surrounding him.

James has advanced to the Finals seven years in a row with both the Cavaliers and Miami Heat and has three championship rings to show for it. While the Los Angeles Lakers are believed to be a heavy favorite to land him should he decide to leave Cleveland for a second time, winning a second title in three years for his hometown squad would make it increasingly difficult to want to pack up and go away again.

The Cavaliers open the 2017-18 campaign on Tuesday against Irving and the Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena, with James’ status for the highly-anticipated showdown up in the air because of a sore left ankle.

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LeBron to miss preseason finale, Lue ‘not sure’ about season opener

LeBron James is done for the preseason.

The Cleveland Cavaliers forward has been ruled out of Friday’s preseason tilt against the Orlando Magic due to his sore left ankle, coach Tyronn Lue told reporters Wednesday.

James, 32, didn’t practice Wednesday after tweaking his ankle in Tuesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Lue indicated he’s “not sure” if James will be ready to go Tuesday when Cleveland opens its regular season versus the Boston Celtics, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

“Got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not,” Lue said. “But it’s pretty sore today, so we’ll just see what happens.”

He added that the latest setback left the four-time MVP "pretty mad, pretty pissed off."

James originally rolled his ankle during training camp and missed the first three exhibition contests before making his debut at Quicken Loans. He registered a team-high 17 points, five rebounds, and three dimes, but also had eight turnovers in 30 minutes.

The three-time champ is entering his 15 NBA campaign and hasn't missed a regular-season opener.

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Watch: LeBron supports Josh Gordon amid comeback from rehab

While LeBron James and Josh Gordon may both play for Cleveland sports franchises, the two have never met, but that isn't stopping the Cavaliers star from being supportive.

James said he's seen the effects of substance addiction and shared the message that no one should judge Gordon as he attempts to make an NFL comeback following his recent stint in rehab.

Related: Josh Gordon opens up about struggles with drugs, alcohol

After a short documentary about Gordon's comeback was released Tuesday, James tweeted a message of support for the suspended Cleveland Browns receiver:

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LeBron critical of preseason debut: ‘I made everyone’s timing off’

LeBron James saw his first action of the preseason for the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night after missing the last three games with a sprained left ankle.

He was cleary unimpressed with his debut performance.

“Well, me personally, tonight I was off,” James said following Cleveland’s 108-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I could feel it.

“It’s just my first action since the Finals and my timing was a little off and turnovers I think just trickled down to everybody, so I made everyone’s timing off.”

James played 25 minutes, scoring 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out three assists. His most glaring number came in the turnover department, though, losing the ball on eight occasions, with seven coming in the first half alone.

Cleveland was also outscored by 18 points with James on the floor.

His ankle flared up after losing the ball out of bounds on a spin to the basket in the first quarter, yet head coach Tyronn Lue kept James in the game.

“I’m pushing through it right now,” James said. “I just wanted to try and test my foot, test my ankle to see how I would come out tonight. So, obviously tonight and tomorrow morning it’s going to be a telltale sign of how I came out tonight. I’m still fresh from the game so it’s OK now but you never know when you wake up the next morning how it can flare up or if it can stiffen on you.

“So, I’ll know more about it tomorrow but I definitely wanted to test it tonight knowing that at least if I tested it tonight I have a week until the regular season started if I don’t play in the game on Friday.”

The Cavaliers are 0-4 in exhibition play, with their final outing coming Friday against the Orlando Magic. They’ll then open the regular season Tuesday against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena.

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