For years, stories have floated around that former Cleveland Cavalier Lebron James was a nightmare to work with. Recently, former Cavs general manager David Griffin told Sports Illustrated he was “miserable” working with James. He even admitted to collapsing in tears after James announced he was returning to Cleveland, in 2014.
Griffin felt immense pressure to build a championship team which caused him to be “overwhelmed” in his role as GM. Despite three-straight consecutive trips to the finals, one of which resulted in a historic series comeback win against the Golden State Warriors, it wasn’t enough for Griffin. He reportedly holed up, in a broom closet in Oakland weeping, while the team celebrated the Finals victory.
“Everything we did was so inorganic and unsustainable and, frankly, not fun,” Griffin told Sports Illustrated. “Literally the moment we won the championship I knew I was going to leave. There was no way I was going to stay for any amount of money.” saying he was so obsessed with winning that he “didn’t love the game anymore.”Sports Illustrated
Griffin ultimately parted ways with the Cavaliers in June 2017 with his contract set to expire at the end of that month. James endorsed Griffin during the intense negotiations saying.
“It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension,” James told ESPN at the time “He’s pulled every move – he’s tried to make every move happen – to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So, we wouldn’t be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here – from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He’s been a big piece of it.”LeBron James
The two seemed amicable until this point – James often praising Griffin for making midseason moves. He gave the credit to his former GM for the timely additions of such players as Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams and Channing Frye. At that time, James even acknowledged that there was league disrespect for Griffin because it was perceived that James ran the organization. He quickly denounced those claims and gave credit to his GM.
“The reason is LeBron is getting all the credit and none of the blame. And that’s not fun for people” Griffin told Sports Illustrated “They don’t like being part of that world” Griffin said he believes “James winning a title in his home state also has affected his mindset on the court and wondered whether James is more preoccupied with other priorities.”Sports Illustrated
Griffin stated, “There wasn’t a lot else for him, I don’t think he’s the same animal anymore about winning.”David Griffin
However, James stats certainly discredit Griffin’s recent comment. He played all 82 games in the 2017-2018 season for the first time in his career. James also led the team in every category in the 2018 playoffs. In that post season, he averaged 34.8 PPG (most of any player) as well as 4-40-point games, two triple-doubles and two game-winning buzzer beaters. All of which were the most of any player. One could easily argue he should get the credit. When they lost the series, everyone pointed to James for not playing defense. That being said – he can’t get “all the credit” but “none of the blame” as Griffin implies.
Why is Griffin seemingly bashing James now? Prior to heading to the Pelicans, Griffin appeared frequently on NBA TV and hosted a weekly Sirius XM radio show. The Pelicans hired him this April. Does Griffin feel he needs to create some type of narrative to gain favor and some patience as he leads his new team?
His words are hardly a hot take on James. He’s been talked about excessively with adversity. His former teammate Kyrie Irving was said to have felt controlled by James. When James signed with the Lakers, he was chastised for “going Hollywood.” Only those who have played and worked with James know the type of teammate he is. Are Griffin’s words just merely timely for his career or is James truly all about himself? He is the self-proclaimed “King” after all. The court is his kingdom but at what cost to the organizations he plays for?