INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James has been likened to a man among boys since his prep school basketball days, but as the superstar embarks on his 15th NBA season, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says James' aging process is going in reverse.
"He seems younger," Lue said following Cleveland's first practice of the season Tuesday. "I call him 'Benjamin Button.' He seems younger, he just seems happier with the game right now, just having fun. Enjoying the game. Hopefully it carries on for 82 games and into the playoffs."
James, who turns 33 in December, is trying to secure an eighth straight Finals appearance come June, which would be his fourth straight with Cleveland.
While the Cavs' summer was filled with uncertainty, from general manager David Griffin's dismissal and their failed attempt to trade for Paul George, to the abandoned pursuit of Chauncey Billups for a front-office post and the league-rattling deal in which they sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics and received an injured Isaiah Thomas as part of their return, James reported to camp as invigorated as ever.
"I'm ready to go," James said at the Cavs' media day on Monday. "This is one of the best offseasons I've had in my career. And I'm extremely excited. What got me excited about the game of basketball is actually being with my sons this summer and watching their AAU games and you probably saw a couple videos where I was not a nice dad during the course of those games. But the 'Basketball Jones' and the basketball fever was put back in me early in July, and it's crazy to say that my 12-year-old and my 10-year-old can inspire me and they did, and their teammates inspired me to get in the gym. I always get better throughout the offseason. I always work on my game or work on my body throughout the offseason."
James' body carried a heavy workload last season, playing a league-high 37.8 minutes per game, which was his highest average since the 2012-13 season.
Lue joked at media day that he would ride the four-time MVP even more this season.
"I'll probably add a minute to his minutes," Lue said with a smile. "So, 38 and a half (minutes per game). ... We'll see."
James did not give a specific reason for his rebirth -- theories abound wondering if he's seeking to make a statement against Irving or simply trying to make the most of the last of his prime -- but he acknowledged there is something motivating him.
"Something was different," James said. "Something was just different throughout the offseason and hopefully I can, I'm not here to talk about it, because that's not what I do. I'll put it out on the floor."