It took a lot longer than anyone thought, but it appears the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally looking like the championship contender everyone thought they’d be when they acquired LeBron James and Kevin Love over the summer.
Sure, things didn’t seem so great early this season, and a miserable slump to open 2015 had many people wondering what was wrong with the team, myself included. When #FireBlatt – referring to the numerous fans begging ownership to ax first-year coach David Blatt – starts trending as often as it did, hope is a little tough to find.
But, the Cavaliers now look like they’re back on track, winning 13 of their last 14 and decimating the lowly Los Angeles Lakers yesterday afternoon. Said game was highlighted by Love, who scored a season-high 32 points to go with his ten rebounds. Since he’s had more than a little trouble adjusting to his new surroundings in Cleveland, it was a welcome sight to see Love put forth such a quality game.
However, the story from yesterday quickly shifted from Love’s performance on the court to an odd tweet James appeared to write about him this past Saturday night. Or was it about him? Apparently it was. No wait, it wasn’t. Hang on, it might’ve been about him. I’m not sure. Ask me again in a few minutes.
Such back-and-forth has become unfortunately necessary since James tweeted, to what appeared to be no one in particular, “Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be a part of something special!” Many thought this was a dig at Love, who said similar comments earlier in the season. James dismissed the idea of this after yesterday’s game. Then, moments later, after most of the media had dispersed, James then appeared to admit the tweet was indeed aimed at Love.
Regrettably, something this minuscule, and something which certainly appears as though it’s simply advice to a teammate, has become a story. While James is trying to be a good leader for a team with championship expectations, the route he’s taken to get this message across wasn’t the best idea.
My point-blank response to all of this is pretty simple: don’t use Twitter to talk to teammates. It’s that easy.
Now, is this a huge controversy between two of Cleveland’s best players? No. But, would it have been a story if James simply took Love aside one day after practice and told him everything that was on his mind privately? I doubt it.
Instead, James tweeted, denied its meaning, went back on that, and is now tweeting about the media making up stories. Meanwhile, since Love isn’t as active on Twitter, he had the pleasure of having the tweet and James’ confirmation of its meaning told to him in the locker room after the game. The result of this had Love looking, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal described it, “blindsided.” Lloyd claimed Love left the arena shaking his head, after going on about how he’s sacrificed all season to try and do whatever he could to help the team.
This is where utilizing Twitter to make your point about someone you see on a daily basis backfires. And by changing his mind a few times about who it was aimed at, James looks like he’s just stirring the pot.
What’s unfortunate is James’ message to Love wasn’t even a “shots fired” kind of moment. He isn’t publically chastising Love; he’s basically asking him to buy in to what he has to say for the greater good of the team. James has been to four straight finals, odds are he knows what he’s doing.
But why do this via Twitter? Why say it’s not about Love, then tell people it is just five minutes later? Look, I get what he’s trying to say, but the way he’s taking to say it is getting more convoluted by the minute.
Another problem with all of this is, as mentioned, the Cavaliers are rolling right now. Things are finally going great, a long way from the losing streak which had everyone panicking. Why rock the boat? Sure, more of Cleveland’s recent wins were despite Love’s on-court performance instead of because of it. Still, when you send a message to a struggling teammate publicly, there’s always a risk it impacts team chemistry.
Again, this could’ve been so much worse if James had made critical comments about Love on Twitter. But, when you try to lead through social media and respond to it in such an oddly passive aggressive nature, it just leads to people blowing it out of proportion. It leads to Love being told about everything via a beat writer. And it leads to him being thrown off and having to figure out just what exactly James meant like everybody else is.
To be fair, you can say I’m fueling the fire just by writing about it; yet another media member adding his two-cents about a player’s tweet. At the same time, I’m not sitting here picking apart the context of what James said. Instead, I’m just saying there are easier ways to handle this situation. If you don’t want to feel the need to tweet about the media making up stories, don’t give them a story by being so cryptic in communicating with your teammates.
As mentioned, in the grand scheme of things, the message is not too bad. You want your team to be all on the same track, and if there’s an issue at hand, you handle it in order to make sure everyone is on board. If James felt Love’s struggles would hinder the team’s chances at a title this year, he had every right to approach him about it.
However, when you try to get your point across in the odd way in which James did it, this only leads to confusion. He’s the true leader of this team, a role he’s accepted since the day he decided to return. In order to excel in this position on a team which has been draped in failure for the past four years, he needs to be more direct.
Next time, save the tweets for another subject.