San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked Wednesday whether he was surprised that LeBron James elected to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency this summer, according to a report from The Plain-Dealer in Cleveland.
Here is how Popovich responded, from the report:
"No. I always thought you guys always had something to say," he responded. "If LeBron went right, you said he should have gone left. If he shot, he should have passed it. If he passed it, he should have shot it, and I always thought that was all baloney.
"He's a great player. He's not just athletic. He's incisive. He understands the game the way Magic [Johnson} did, the way Larry [Bird] did, the way Tim Duncan does. He knows a whole lot more of about what he's doing and what he has been doing than you all. He's a character guy, he's good people, and he's got a great heart." [...]
"I'm just happy for him whether he went to Timbuktu, he should do what's best for him, his family," he said. "Everybody else can go swim in a lake. You all do what you want to do; LeBron should be able to do what he loves to do."
James spent the first seven seasons of his career in Cleveland after being selected first overall in the 2003 NBA draft. He left the Cavaliers for Miami in 2010 to form the so-called "Big Three" with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
James failed to win a championship during his first stint in Cleveland but won two titles and went to four consecutive Finals with Miami. James and the Heat fell in five games to the Spurs in last year's Finals. The four-time MVP announced in an essay published on SI.com this summer that he would return to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers (5-4) hosts the Spurs (6-4) on Wednesday night.
- Chris Johnson