The Cleveland Cavaliers are a favorite to emerge from the Eastern Conference, but superstar small forward LeBron James thinks the team needs a mean streak.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James said the Cavaliers aren’t playing at the level of the Golden State Warriors despite losing the NBA Finals to Stephen Curry and Co.
“We haven’t done anything. We didn’t win anything. We lost. We lost in the Finals. So that’s enough motivation for myself. I think we need to understand that. Like, we lost in the Finals. We didn’t win. And the team that beat us looks more hungry than we are. So it shouldn’t be that way.
“We’re too relaxed and too nice. We’re just too nice.”
Unfortunately for Cleveland, the adjective “nice” can’t be twisted into a good thing—especially following losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons in consecutive games.
In hockey, “nice” is an absurdly great word. In basketball, however, it means the opposition is overpowering you mentally, physically or both.
The Cavaliers should model themselves after the San Antonio Spurs, who lost to James and the Miami Heat in heartbreaking fashion but harnessed that angst for the 2013-14 season.
Throughout that campaign, San Antonio simply laid waste to everything in its path and finished 78-27 overall en route to winning an NBA title by getting revenge on the Heat.
Should LeBron and Cleveland be able to channel the frustrations from last season, this roster is capable of performing at the same level as the Warriors. But if the Cavaliers keep playing nice, Golden State will continue showing a brand of basketball Cleveland isn’t able to match.