LeBron thinking outside the box

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have won an NBA-best 11 straight games, and their star, LeBron James, says he's willing to do whatever it takes to keep the Cavs' success going -- even if it means coming off the bench.

"It's all about the team and for me being the leader of the team, it doesn't matter. Whatever this team needs in order for us to win, I'll come off the bench. I'm serious. I'll come off the bench," James said after practice Wednesday. "If it helps our team, that's what it's about, man.

"Sacrifice is the biggest word in team sports, but it's not about saying it. It's about doing it as well. It's about living it."
LeBron James

"It's about a team and how we all fit together, how the five guys on the court fit together, how the eight guys or 10 guys on the bench all help the guys that are on the floor and so on and so on. So, sacrifice is the biggest word in team sports, but it's not about saying it. It's about doing it, as well. It's about living it."

James made his remarks a couple of days after Kevin Love's individual struggles came into focus following his season-low five-point output on just 1-of-7 shooting in a 97-84 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Love did not have a shot attempt after the first quarter.

James' offer to come off the bench was figurative, of course. He merely was illustrating the lengths he is prepared to go in order to keep the Cavs moving forward in the Eastern Conference standings. The 12-year veteran has started 881 of his 882 games in the pros. The only time he's come off the bench was Dec. 11, 2007, in a home win against the Indiana Pacers, making his return to the lineup after missing five straight games because of a sprained left index finger.

Besides, Cleveland coach David Blatt would never go for LeBron not being among the starting five.

"No. No. Nope," Blatt said. "He's doing fine as he is. He's doing quite fine."

Blatt appreciated James' overarching message, however.

"LeBron is a champion and he's not only a great player, but he's a great teammate and he wants his guys, his teammates, to do well and he wants the team to do well," Blatt said. "And that's a big positive; it's a really big positive."

About the only shortcoming you can point to when it comes to Cleveland these days is Love's play on offense. Playing in 10 games during the Cavs' current streak, he's averaging just 13.9 points on 37.2 percent shooting.

Blatt downplayed Love's struggles, pointing out how he is helping the team's overall cause.

"I think Kevin is very much in the flow of the game and is playing both ends of the court," Blatt said. "The last thing I really worry about with Kevin Love is if he is going to score. That's the last thing that concerns me. He's a proven scorer in this league and a proven high-level scorer. And he's helping the team win. He's playing to win, and that's really what both concerns me and what impresses me about him, is he's been willing to do whatever it takes to help us win, and that's what we want."