Wait, What? LeBron Was Depressed And Mopey Until He Saw Timofey Mozgov’s Size?
We've already gotten some juicy semi-gossip out of Brian Windhorst's appearance on Bill Simmons' "The B.S. Report" podcast (Windhorst would call it "news"), but there's another story in there that is just making me... so confused. It's about how LeBron went from struggling with his new challenge in Cleveland to embracing his team and helping them turn it around -- and the spark was the sight of Timofey Mozgov for the first time.
Back when the Cavaliers were struggling to get above .500, LeBron James took a two week break from the team in order to rejuvenate down in Miami. Incredibly, just before the vacation, LeBron was so fed up with his teammates (or situation, or decisions in life?) that he refused to play in Cleveland's Dec. 30 game against Atlanta. This part of the podcast starts around the 30-minute mark:
Simmons: Have we ever figured out what happened when LeBron took that two week hiatus?
Windhorst: Well, he went to Miami and something happened...
Simmons: The story is he had an achy knee and he needed some time off and he needed his body to recover and then he was back and he looked like LeBron again.
Windhorst: I also feel like he was energized. [Cavs GM] David Griffin tells the story: They were in San Francisco and they had just traded for Mozgov. He said that LeBron had been moping for weeks, and there was a game, Bill, at the end of the year... It was LeBron's birthday, it was December 30th. They were playing in Atlanta. It was before Atlanta went on their 20-game win streak, so it wasn't really deemed a big game yet. And they thought LeBron was going to play, and LeBron just decided, 'I'm not gonna play.' Like, at the last minute, he told them, 'I'm not playing.' Didn't even come out to the bench, just sat in the back, didn't come out."
The people on the Cavs were stunned. [James] had sort of just like waved a bit of a white flag there. He just didn't feel like playing. He had never done that ever before. He had always just played through it. And so it was after that game, [the Cavaliers] said, 'Alright, take your two weeks off,' because he had reached a very low point.
So he had been moping for several weeks, and when they made the trade was during LeBron's hiatus, but he went on their West Coast trip with them, he wasn't playing yet, they were playing at Golden State and they were in the team hotel and in walks Timofey Mozgov, and he arrives. David Griffin tells the story that LeBron was sort of leaning against the wall, sort of still moping, and he saw Mozgov and he just was like, 'I can't believe how big he is.' Obviously, he had played against him a dozen times, but he was like, 'I just can't believe how big he is.' And he like straightened up. Griff tells the story of how LeBron just straightened up to meet him. He came back like four or five days later against Phoenix and looked great...
There's a pretty crucial part of this story missing -- what happened to LeBron while he vacationed in South Beach? Did he just rest up? Did he meditate? Did he forsake his Whole 30-esque diet and pig out on cupcakes? Did he climb a mountain, turn around, and see his reflection in the snooooow-covered hills, until a landslide brought it down? Because this anecdote makes it sounds like LeBron was rejuvenated at the sight of Mozgov's big body, which is odd.
Indeed, Mozgov has been a revelation for the Cavs, and as Windhorst says, LeBron has never played with a center like this before. But this seems like a bit much. Maybe it's just that it takes more than three months for players to get used to playing with each other? We may never know.
Photo via Getty
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