James, who re-signed with the Cavaliers after four seasons with the Miami Heat, led teammates through plays on Monday night and explained how each position should function. The Cavaliers are installing a new offense under first-year head coach David Blatt, who has no prior NBA coaching experience.
At the end of the evening practice, Blatt blew his whistle and told the players to clear the court and get off their feet; it was a long day, with many more ahead in this team's drive for the city of Cleveland's first major pro sports championship in 50 years. (The NFL's Browns are the city's most recent title celebrants, in 1964.)
The coaching staff retreated to their evening meeting, which lasted 30 minutes or so. When they emerged, what they saw was heartening, if not particularly surprising: There was James on the practice floor with four teammates, marching them through the intricacies of Blatt's offensive system from the perspective of each position, one through five. James had already mastered them all.
In addition to James and Blatt, the Cavaliers have several new pieces to integrate before the season starts. They acquired All-Star power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the previous two No. 1 picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Cleveland also signed a host of veteran players, including Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones.
James, the No. 1 ranked player in SI.com's Top 100 list, said his back has been "iffy" during the first few days of training camp. He has never missed more than seven games in any single season during the first 11 years of his NBA career.
The Cavaliers play their first preseason game on Monday against Maccabi Tel Aviv before traveling to Brazil to play the Miami Heat. Cleveland opens the regular season on Oct. 30 against the New York Knicks.
- Paul Palladino