The Cleveland Cavaliers’ decision Friday to fire head coach David Blatt and promote assistant Tyronn Lue came as a shock to many across the NBA.
Including, if you can believe it, the Cavs’ best player and franchise cornerstone.
In a press conference Saturday morning, LeBron James insisted he didn’t influence Cavs general manager David Griffin’s decision to let Blatt go and was “surprised and caught off guard” by the announcement.
“I found out about it just like every other player on this team at 3:30 (p.m. ET on Friday),” James said, via ESPN.com “I think (Griffin) was right on everything he said. … Like it or love it or hate it, we got to respect it.”
Griffin had some pretty strong words for Blatt in his press conference Friday, saying the Cavs didn’t feel “connected” under the new head coach, even after wins. But despite multiple reports that James and Blatt didn’t see eye-to-eye from Day 1, the Cavs GM claimed he didn’t consult James or any other player before firing Blatt.
“I didn’t talk to any of the players before this decision,” Griffin said Friday. “It’s really critical to me for everybody to understand this is my decision. This is our basketball staff’s decision. … I’m not taking a poll.”
The rift between Blatt and his players reportedly made Friday’s firing an inevitability, but Griffin’s announcement apparently did catch Cleveland’s players by surprise. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst, when Cavs players were called together to receive the news, some thought they were going to be told that Kevin Love had been traded.
James also added he’s ready to take orders from Lue despite being close with the 38-year-old from a young age.
“We’ve been friends since I was 17 years old,” James said. “But it ended today. …He’s still the coach and I’m underneath him.”
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images