Chris Bosh doesn’t want to talk to LeBron James, but that doesn’t mean the two former teammates aren’t still friends.
Bosh and the Miami Heat play James and his new team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, and the hype machine for the preseason game has churned out a tasty storyline that animosity has soured the relationship between Bosh and James.
Not true, Bosh said on Thursday, but he’s not planning to be very friendly toward James on Saturday or for the rest of the season.
“I want people to understand I’m a competitor and he’s on the other team, and I think he’d understand that and I understand that and that’s how it is now,” Bosh said. “There’s no hard feelings or anything if we’re both trying to win; he’s against us and that’s a matter of fact.”
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Bosh is transitioning from a role player back into a franchise cornerstone this season, and part of his mental preparation for that change has been a noticeable edge during the preseason. He’s not as laid back and casual as seasons past.
When asked about James earlier this week, Bosh said he wasn’t interested in talking with anyone who wasn’t on his team. That rhetoric mushroomed out of proportion on the Internet and television, so Bosh clarified his perspective after Thursday’s practice.
He even added that he sent James and his wife Savannah a present for a baby shower.
“It’s really not such a storyline that you guys are making it to be,” LeBron James said.
Still, Bosh doesn’t want Saturday’s game to be a reunion of old playing buddies.
James on the other is looking forward to seeing his old teammates on the court.
“It’s going to be special to see those guys, for sure, on Saturday,” James said. “But we’re here to work, Miami is here to work and get better.”
Asked about Bosh’s comments, James didn’t seem too concerned about the perceived slight.
“It’s just the preseason, and I’ll acknowledge those guys, for sure,” James said. “I’m cool with all those guys. I’m not that into it as far as the competitive nature. It’s too early. If I put all my mind into right now, then I’d be drained too fast.”
With so many former teammates playing on both teams, Saturday’s game might feel like an instra-squad scrimmage for many of the players. In addition to James, and James Jones’ and Mike Miller’s familiarity with the Heat, Luol Deng played for the Cavaliers last year. Jones said on Thursday he didn’t sense any hard feelings from the Heat when he informed them this summer that he would be joining James in Cleveland.
“Micky [Arison] and Pat [Riley] are professionals,” Jones said. “They’ve been on both sides of it, and they know how the NBA works. It’s just business as usual for them.”
Free agency, of course, was anything but business as usual when it came to James and his decision. Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert secretly met with James in Miami and Riley flew to Las Vegas to meet with James. The entire league then waited for James to make his decision.
Jones joined James, and Miller also made his decision to join his former teammates. The father of young children, Miller has moved three times in the past three years.
“It has been interesting,” Jones said of his time so far in Cleveland. “I’m around some extremely talented and young guys and there is an energy about the team and an excitement about the city that’s invigorating.”
Jones’ reason for leaving the Heat: “It was just time.”
“We had a very awesome run in Miami,” Jones said. “Free agency brings uncertainty and at some point you have to move on, and so that’s what happened.
The new-look Cavaliers have been the dominant story in the NBA, but the team’s current buzz is hard to compare what the Heat experienced in 2010.
“That’s a different team and a totally different environment,” Jones said. “The league was at a different place, the style of play was different and what we did in Miami is special. It can’t be replicated anywhere else.
“This is a different challenge, but I think it’s one of those things very similar to Miami where we’re coming together when a very dominant Spurs team is looking good and in a groove.”
▪ Jones said that he hasn’t lobbied Ray Allen to join the Cavaliers, but he would like Allen to join him in Cleveland. Allen is a free agent and hasn’t officially decided to return for another season or retire. There has been plenty of speculation, however, that Allen is joining his former Heat teammates in Cleveland.
“He’s one of my greatest friends and teammates and I would love to continue to play with him, but in his time he will decide what to do,” Jones said. “And with all he has accomplished, and as much as he has done, he deserves the right to take as long as he wants and do what’s best for him and more importantly do what’s best for his family. Because I know that’s a very important factor for him.’’