Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James revealed he’s been calling plays since his second year in the NBA, in response to reports that he often calls plays with the Cavs and head coach David Blatt merely yells the play LeBron chooses to make sure the other players hear it.
James was questioned about the situation at shootaround on Thursday morning, and gave new details.
“No. I don’t have the freedom to call all the plays. That wasn’t my quote. I have freedom to call sets, whatever I feel best suit our team. That’s no different from Miami, and that’s no different from when I was here before. Why wouldn’t you give me the freedom to call play calls? That’s like telling Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, don’t give them the freedom to change them in the huddle. I’m a smart, cerebral basketball player, my basketball IQ is very high, and I take that very seriously. So I know what best suits our team and our coaching staff does well,” he told reporters, reported Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report.
“But if you don’t allow me to call plays throughout the course of a game, then that’s not going to benefit our team.”
James, who often dictates the offense, added more on calling sets and plays.
“It’s not a set change. I can come down the floor and know what happened two possessions ago, or three possessions ago, or a quarter ago, and know how we can exploit a defense. It’s just my knowledge of the game, it’s just how I know how defense works, how they play me. I can call a set to get my teammate an open shot every time, just knowing how the defense plays me. Being able to have that mind frame, being able to have that basketball IQ benefits our team,” he said.
“I do it every game. I’ve done it every game, for the probably like last 11 years. My rookie year, I didn’t have the freedom, I wasn’t smart enough to know. But the last 11 years, I’ve done it every game.”
Skolnick noted that James has the ball in his hands more with Cleveland than he did with the Miami Heat, which often had Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole bring the ball up the floor, particularly after made baskets.
Blatt commented on the situation this week as well.
“I don’t think that’s peculiar,” he told ESPN.
“When the game is going on and you are in the heat of the battle at times, you can’t get a message through or you don’t want to stop the flow, so a guy may [call the play on his own]. We have sets that we know what we’re going to use going in. You know, we have a package that we’re going to use going in and at times, according to the flow of the game, somebody may call out a play. I don’t think that’s unusual.”