LeBron Remembers McLeod On Day Lakers Were To Visit Cavs
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were scheduled to make their lone visit of the season to Cleveland on Thursday night.
But that of course never happened, as the league and the world are on hold because of the coronavirus.
Still, James took time to remember late Cavaliers TV voice Fred McLeod, who died suddenly of a heart attack in early September.
"My first couple years in the league, we had a different guy over there with (color analyst) Austin Carr by the name of Michael Reghi," James recalled on the Road Trippin' Podcast, hosted by former Cavs forwards Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. "But then Fred came on board, and ever since then, him and AC were the host of Cavs TV, Cavs radio, Cavs whatever."
McLeod started calling Cavs games for FOX Sports Ohio in 2006. He was the television voice of the franchise during each of its five runs to the Finals (2007, 2015-18). That included the title-winning season of 2016.
A native of nearby Strongsville, Ohio, McLeod was 67 years old when he died. Along with his passion for the game, he was known for his engaging personality and colorful ties.
James admired the partnership of McLeod and Carr from the start.
"Those guys were inseparable," he said. "They reminded me of Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Barnett (Martin Lawrence) on 'Bad Boys.' You know, they couldn't do it without each other."
James, Jefferson, Frye and Road Trippin' co-host Allie Clifton all spent plenty of time working near or with McLeod. Clifton is currently the pre- and postgame host of Lakers telecasts in Los Angeles.
She returned to Cleveland to celebrate McLeod's life with many others shortly after he died.
"I know when all four of us got the news, we was like, 'What?' It didn't make sense," James said. "It was like, 'No, you must be talking about somebody else.'
"So it would have been very difficult to look over there and see Austin Carr and not see our great friend Fred, and the great tie that he would've had on for that game.
"But much respect. Our prayers continue to go out to Beth (McLeod) and the family. The legend lives on man, and Fred is definitely one of those, that's for sure."
James is averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists this year.
The Lakers (49-14) owned the best record in the Western Conference when the NBA suspended the season March 11. The Cavs (19-46) were in last place in the East.
Cleveland has not qualified for the playoffs without James on the team since 1998.
Sam Amico covers the NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers for SI.com. Follow him @AmicoHoops.