CLEVELAND -- In the run-up to what is an extremely anticipated season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, there has been a bunch of typical promotional chatter with the tagline of "Are you ready, Cleveland?"
It's a typical hype-generation tactic. Imagining LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving playing together is an exciting concept, not just for long-starved Cavs fans but for general NBA fans who have proved they flock to the spectacle of superteams.
But as the Cavs open training camp Friday, it is not just marketing but also a sobering and fair question: Are the Cavs ready? Do they truly know what they're about to embark on and what they're getting with this version of James?
Probably not, and that will become clear in the first weeks -- or months -- of this latest hot spotlight.
The version of James who is reporting for work this week isn't just a touching coming home story and a ticket- and jersey-selling machine. This is an all-business man who is accustomed to an all-business attitude. He is not afraid to issue demands for those around him to follow suit.
The Miami Heat influence on James is undeniable. James may be gone from Miami, but he will no doubt carry the lessons of that franchise for the rest of his career and, probably, his life. Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra are all business. From the way they practice to the way they play down to the way they eat, they conduct their franchise in such a manner.
James embraced many of the Heat's principles. He called his time in Miami a college experience. In some ways, it was a military school experience. It is not an accident that James wanted Mike Miller and James Jones with him in Cleveland, and his recruitment of Ray Allen is part of the same idea. James knows he is going to need help in applying a makeover to the Cavs' comfort zone.
The first cars into the Cavs' practice facility parking lot many days this summer belonged to Jones and Miller. They arrived sometimes before the Cavs staff got to work. The young Cavs players are about to learn who the last ones on the court will be after practice. This is how it is done in Miami, and this is how James will want it done in Cleveland.
This was evident in the way James handled himself over the summer. Within moments of making his free-agency announcement, James was on the phone with Love, Miller, Jones and, later, Shawn Marion. He helped close those deals shortly thereafter. Nearly 30, James is about execution these days, not just the show.
New Cavs coach David Blatt is a veteran coach who has won a dozen ways with a dozen teams. That is good. James will expect well-run practices and strong and clear game preparation. That is what he became accustomed to in Miami.
Operating as a facilitator for all the talent around him while also being assertive enough to step up when he had opportunities, Irving excelled this summer with Team USA. That is good. James will expect Irving to act like a point guard who is focused on getting all his teammates involved while earning his stripes as an All-Star who can deliver when it matters. James will expect Irving to be accountable when things don't go well -- "owning it," as Spoelstra would say -- and to show the maturity of a player going into his fourth year in the league who has the responsibility of a max contract. If Irving wants to know how James handles teammates who pout at times, he should call Mario Chalmers.
With his rebounding, passing and long-range shooting abilities, Love has a perfect skill set to play with James. That is good. James will expect Love to accept a role with fewer shots and more effort given on defense. James will want Love to be Chris Bosh only better, not only accepting a new role but also embracing it and genuinely working to be better at it. And James, as he was with Bosh, will not be bashful in challenging Love.
James will do all this from the position of knowing that he will be in top physical shape, he will put in the work at practice and in the film room, and he will know not just where he is supposed to be all the time but where everyone else is supposed to be. He is a two-time champ, a two-time Finals MVP, a four-time MVP and a man starting to feel his basketball mortality who has put his reputation on the line -- again -- to make it finally work in his hometown.
He is going to live up to his end of the bargain. If anyone with the Cavs doesn't live up to theirs, and that starts with owner Dan Gilbert and goes right down to the ball boys, James is not going to let them get away with it.
The Cavs organization will remember the James who liked to joke around and plan pregame routines and then run away when ownership and the front office came to him when they needed real help. It wasn't that James failed as a recruiter for free agents and coaches his first time in Cleveland, it was that he wasn't even interested in taking part.
Those days are over. James will have his fun and involve teammates; that's why he has become so well-liked in the league. But you better execute your job because James will execute his. With how he's positioned himself, he has all the power to make any changes if he deems them appropriate.
This is who James is now. Just ask Nike. The company has a nine-figure deal with James, but when last year's version of the shoe wasn't performing the way he demanded, there was hell to pay behind the scenes and on stage. James just stopped wearing the model.
The Cavs are about to learn all of this firsthand as James is about to apply a giant culture shock.
"Are you ready?" indeed.