LeBron James on 2010: 'You Have to Stay Open-Minded If You're a Knicks Fan'
With 26 points in just 30 minutes of action, LeBron James helped lead the Cavs to an easy 119-101 win over the Knicks in New York on Tuesday night.
But the big story of the night didn't take place on the court, it went down in James' press conference after the game.
If you consider a player admitting that he's still undecided about his future to be big news, that is.
During his post-game presser, James was first asked about the reception he received from the New York faithful. He said it was humbling. Then ESPN's Rachel Nichols asked him what he thought about Knicks fans pulling for something in 2010 ("something" being LeBron signing with the Knicks) that might not even happen.
"I don't know if it's going to happen," said James. "I'm so focused on this season and what we have at task with the Cavs that it's hard for me to even think about that date. But at the same time, you have to stay open-minded if you're a Knicks fan."
LeBron was then asked about things like: the Cavs' new offense, shooting set shots, if the Cavs were using all the talk about 2010 to go under the radar (LBJ: "No team that LeBron James is on will ever be under the radar. It's impossible."), and if any Russian billionaires had contacted him about playing for $50 million a year in Europe. LeBron said no, he hadn't received any calls from Russia, Greece or Spain. Laughter ensued. At this point it looked like the media session was done.
But then just as the presser was breaking up, a cameraman boldly stopped the King and asked him if Brooklyn was still an option if and when the Nets move there, and what he likes about that situation.
And at this point, LeBron basically left the door open for every team in the league.
"Well, I think with free agency in 2010, every team is going to try to get better," said James. "It's not just New York, it's not just Brooklyn, it's every team. Every team wants to strive to be the best, and every team wants to win an NBA championship, so it's not going to be a two-team race between Brooklyn and New York. It's going to be a lot of teams that are going to try to strengthen their teams, and there's going to be a lot of free agents out there in 2010, so if you guys want to sleep right now and don't wake up until July 1, 2010, then go ahead, because it's going to be a big day."
So what does all of this mean? Well, everything and nothing. Basically, LeBron's a savvy negotiator and knows that he can't admit to anything right now. For instance, even if he intended on staying with the Cavs, if he told them as much, then they might grow complacent and not put as much pressure on themselves to continue to improve the team. If he knew in his heart that he was going to sign with the Knicks, he still obviously couldn't admit to it, because then he'd get pelted with rocks and garbage every time he went outdoors in Cleveland. And he can't sign off on Jay-Z and the Nets because of tampering issues, not to mention the fact that the team hasn't even broken ground on their stadium in Brooklyn yet.
But it's safe to say that at this point, Cavs fans have to be at least a little bit nervous at the prospect of losing the King. One gets the sense that if he really planned on staying with the team, then he'd speak a little bit more highly of them at this point.
Instead, when it comes to 2010, it appears as though the only teams the Cavs have a leg up on at this point are those based overseas.