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John Calipari: I wouldn’t have gone to Cavs even for LeBron James

John CalipariA little over two months ago, a report surfaced that indicated John Calipari was in “deep discussions” with the Cleveland Cavaliers before he finalized a new contract extension with Kentucky. That was before LeBron James shocked the world by announcing he was heading home to Cleveland.

In hindsight, Calipari was probably using the Cavs and any other NBA team as leverage to get more money from Kentucky. But what if he knew that taking a job in the NBA would mean getting a chance to coach the greatest player on the planet? Would Calipari have left the Wildcats for King James?

“No. No. I don’t think so. Because he and I have a great relationship (with LeBron), but it’s not based on me coaching him,” Calipari told Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal. “We’ve got a relationship. I’ve known him for years and years. We’ve always been friends. But it was never based on that. I’ve said that. I’ve had a chance to coach Derrick Rose, John Wall and DeMarcus (Cousins), Anthony Davis and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). And I’m leaving names off, but I’ve coached some of the best players in basketball, and it is a thrill. There’s nothing better than that. Especially when those guys are all good guys.

“Well, LeBron is also that kind of player and that kind of person. But again, leaving guys who made decisions based on what’s right for their career was something I couldn’t have gotten by anyway.”

Once the Harrison twins — Aaron and Andrew — decided to stay at Kentucky along with Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson, Calipari said there is no way he was going to leave. Kentucky gave him a $52.1 million extension through 2021 just to be sure.

“They came back because it was good for them and their careers and they knew they needed more developing and coachingm” Calipari explained. “That was by me. That’s what they wanted. So that made it a tough deal to say, ‘I’m just going to leave these guys here.’ With who? It may be somebody I don’t know that wouldn’t do the things for them that they needed to do.”

Somehow, I find that hard to believe. The potential to make $8 million per season as an NBA head coach and president of basketball operations while coaching the best player in the league probably would have intrigued Calipari more than the thought of inheriting a rebuilding project. He’s only human, after all.

LeBron James will face Heat in Miami for first time on Christmas

LeBron James Heat

The NBA will be giving its fans one heck of a Christmas present this year.

The NBA schedule will be released on Wednesday evening and a report says one of the Christmas Day games will be LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers returning to Miami to face the Heat.

Christmas has become one of the biggest days in the NBA schedule. Much like the NFL dominating Thanksgiving, the NBA has been pairing some of its most high-profile teams and stars against each other for the holiday. They also time the game with shoe and apparel releases to really take advantage of Santa Claus’ generosity.

In addition to the Heat and Cavs in Miami, ESPN says the Warriors and Clippers will meet on Christmas. The teams have developed a strong rivalry in recent years.

LeBron James says he will not leave Cleveland again

LeBron James Cavs

LeBron James has gone Nick Saban on everyone and says he will not be leaving Cleveland again.

James spoke at a “Welcome Home LeBron” event at InfoCision Stadium in Akron Friday and pledged his allegiance to the Cavaliers.

“I don’t plan on going anywhere,” James said Friday via the Akron Beacon Journal. “I don’t have the energy to do it again.”

James was drafted by the Cavaliers and played for them from 2003-2010. He won two MVPs and reached the NBA Finals once but never captured a title. He left for Miami and played four seasons with the Heat, reaching the Finals all four seasons and winning them twice. But he returned to Cleveland this offseason amid much fanfare, forgiveness and elation.

There was some speculation that James could leave the team again because he only signed a two-year deal, but he says that was done for financial reasons.

“At the end of the day I’m a businessman as well,” James said, “and I know what’s going on in our league.”

James was referring to the new TV deal the league is negotiating, which could lead to higher maximum salaries for top players.

James leaving the organization and area for a second time would be devastating for the community. It’s good he plans to stay with them the rest of his career lest he risk becoming the most hated man in Ohio. That is unless his second stint with the team turns disastrous.

ESPN suspends Dan Le Batard for LeBron James billboard

Dan-Le-Batard-LeBron-billboard

Dan Le Batard has never been one to weigh the potential consequences of his actions before going through with them, which is one of the reasons he is more entertaining than a lot of other sports radio personalities. It’s also the reason he was given a long weekend by his employer this week.

On Thursday, ESPN released a statement announcing that Le Batard has been suspended for two days because of the funny billboard he paid for in Akron mocking LeBron James.

“Dan Le Batard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday,” the statement read. “His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”

I think everyone knows Le Batard’s publicity stunt does not reflect the views of ESPN, considering it was a joke that Le Batard and his father attached their names to. Le Batard even said earlier this week that it was all in good fun.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” he told Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

We know how protective of its image the World Wide Leader can be. But remember, Le Batard is the same guy who sacrificed his MLB Hall of Fame vote for life just to make a point. A two-day suspension won’t change him in any way.

Photo via @JeremyinAkron

LeBron James skinny looks weird

LeBron James skinny

LeBron James has been making a concerted effort to lose weight this offseason, and let me just say that he looks weird skinny.

As Del noted a few days ago, LeBron has cut carbs from his diet and has already lost “significant weight.” He wasn’t lying. You can just see in this photo he posted to Instagram Thursday how much different James looks.

LeBron hasn’t spoken about his weight-loss efforts yet, but the speculation is that he’s trying to become lighter to prolong his career. Though he’s been listed at 250 pounds, people believe his weight has been around 265. He’s still ripped, but he doesn’t have the same mass anymore. That could make things a little easier for him going through an 82-game season.

I liked LeBron more when he had that Greek god body. Nobody could handle him going to the basket when he was that massive. Now he’s lighter and might feel the effects of hard fouls more than he used to.

Dan Le Batard trolls LeBron James with billboard

Dan-Le-Batard-LeBron-billboard

Dan Le Batard has finally figured out a way to take a very public shot at LeBron James. The Miami-based sports radio host and his co-hosts had been discussing ways to troll LeBron when he officially returns to Akron on Friday, but both the Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer rejected their proposed ad.

Fear not, LeBron haters — Le Batard and his father Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard found a billboard company in Akron that was willing to take their money.

In a text message to Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, Le Batard explained that the billboard is all in good fun and is simply meant to point out that LeBron never thanked Miami for the championships.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” Le Batard said. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

Like thousands handfuls of other fans in the Miami area, Le Batard is upset that LeBron left after winning two championships in four seasons. He knows the Heat wouldn’t have won the rings without LeBron. If you ask me, the joke is pretty funny. I bet even LeBron will laugh.

H/T DC Sports Bog
Photo via @JeremyinAkron

LeBron James looking skinny (Pictures)

LeBron-James-skinny

LeBron James may look a little slimmer when he takes the court at the start of the 2014-2015 NBA season, and it will have nothing to do with his new Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, LeBron has decided to cut carbs this offseason and has already dropped “significant weight.”

Recent photos that LeBron posted on Instagram show a less bulky King James. As Ben Sin of Sports Illustrated noted, NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash have all found ways to shed pounds as they get older in an attempt to prolong their careers.

Believe it or not, LeBron will turn 30 in December. He was listed at 250 pounds this past season, but many believe he was closer to 265. On one hand, there is some concern that a skinnier LeBron will not be as powerful going to the hoop. But a smaller frame will mean less stress on the knees, which is likely what LeBron is going for.

Don’t worry, this guy can still show up whenever he feels like it:

LeBron-James-flex