LeBron James is sounding a lot like Heat coach Erik Spoelstra these days, and NBA insiders familiar with Miami’s locker-room culture have been taking notice.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped below .500 late Tuesday night with a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, and afterward James began reeling off a list of classic Spoelstra catchphrases and go-to nuggets of wisdom about team development. The unique and repetitive jargon or “coach speak” — known as “Spoisms” — has become one of Spoelstra’s most endearing trademarks.
“It’s going to be a process,” James said at Portland’s Moda Center after the loss to the Trail Blazers. “I keep on harping on that word, but it’s the truth. I’ve been there before and understand it. But you do have to go through it even though you don’t like to go through it.”
Or, as Spoelstra might say, the Cavaliers just need to “respect the process,” and avoid listening to “outside noise” because those distractions are just “someone else’s truth.”
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James scored just 11 points in Portland, including two points over the final three quarters of the game.
James never scored 11 or fewer points in a regular-season game with the Heat, and the last time he has scored just two points over a three-quarter stretch was his rookie year, according to ESPN.
While James only attempted four shots in the second half, teammates Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined to go 6 of 29 from the field for the game.
“There’s a lot of bad habits — a lot of bad habits have been built up over the last couple of years, and when you play that style of basketball it takes a lot to get it up out of you,” James said. “But I’m here to help, and that’s what it’s about.”
Irving and Waiters might just need to “sacrifice” more for the team, as Spoelstra is inclined to repeat … ad nauseam.
“Everyone wants to win, I would hope,” James said. “Would you rather play selfish basketball and lose or play unselfish basketball and sacrifice and win? So you pick it.”
Count Spoelstra as one of the coaches who probably would rather do away with the NBA’s new instant-replay initiatives rather than add more ways to stop action late in games.
Spoelstra noted several times how long it took to get through the end of Sunday’s victory against the Toronto Raptors, and on Wednesday the NBA announced more stoppages could be on the way.
The NBA said the D-League will experiment this season with challenge calls for coaches on offensive fouls and other plays that would trigger a review.
From the league office:
“The coach’s challenge enables NBA D-League coaches to initiate instant replay review of referee calls of personal or shooting fouls, including offensive fouls, as well as those plays that have been identified as triggers for instant replay. Violations such as traveling and palming may not be challenged, nor can continuations or act-of-shooting determinations.
“To initiate a challenge, a coach must call a timeout and immediately signal to the referees that a play is being challenged. The referees will then review the event in question and determine whether to uphold or change the original call. The challenging team will retain its timeout if the challenge is successful and will lose its timeout if it is unsuccessful. Teams will be granted one challenge during regulation and another challenge in each overtime period. An additional challenge in regulation will be granted if the first challenge is successful.”
On Wednesday in Charlotte, Spoelstra didn’t sound pleased with the new rules.
“I don’t think any of that stuff matters until we figure out what’s going on with replays,” Spoelstra said. “Replays are what’s extending the games 20, 30 minutes each game. … In the Toronto game, there wasn’t a bead of sweat on any of the players at the end of the game.”
this and that
▪ Heat forward Chris Andersen missed his second consecutive game with bruised ribs. Andersen said the injury would take time to heal.
“He’s not ready for contact and getting hit in the rib, but he has been doing a lot of treatment and feels better,” Spoelstra said.
▪ Andersen wore an enormous, one-of-a-kind, rodeo-style brass belt buckle that says “Cold Ass Honky 2013 NBA Champions” to Wednesday’s game in Charlotte.