LeBron James: Just preference to not stay at Trump hotel

LeBron explains why he isn't staying at Trump-branded hotel (0:50)

LeBron James talks about his decision not to stay at Trump's SoHo hotel while the Cavaliers are in New York City playing the Knicks. (0:50)

NEW YORK -- LeBron James said he was "not trying to make a statement" in deciding not to stay at President-elect Donald Trump's SoHo hotel, the Cleveland Cavaliers' residence while they are in town.

"It's just my personal preference," James said as he talked to reporters from a baseline seat at Madison Square Garden with Cleveland preparing to play the New York Knicks later Wednesday night. "At the end of the day, I hope he's one of the best presidents ever for all of our sake -- my family, for all of us. But it's just my personal preference. It would be the same if I went to a restaurant and decided to eat chicken and not steak."

James made his comments just hours after Trump was named Time magazine's person of the year for 2016, with the cover of the publication showing the real estate tycoon looking over his shoulder while seated on an armchair with the caption "President of the Divided States of America."

James said it was the first time in his career that he chose to stay somewhere other than the primary team hotel on a road trip. A team source told ESPN.com that the alternative hotel -- which about half of the Cavs' roster was excused to stay at should they choose to -- was located close enough to the Trump SoHo that both factions of Cleveland's traveling party were able to meet and take the same bus over to the shootaround.

"I rode the bus like I do every [shootaround], like what I've done for 14 straight years," James said. "With my teammates, coaching staff and everybody else that travels with us."

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who did stay at the Trump SoHo, was asked how unique of a situation it was for his team.

"Is it odd? I mean, it's not normal," Lue said. "But considering the circumstances, that's what we have. That's not my main objective. My main thing is just trying to get this team to stay on track and playing the right way and trying to get back to playing Cleveland Cavaliers basketball."

The Cavs entered into a contract with the Trump SoHo for their regular season trips prior to the presidential election because the hotel could guarantee the team a block of rooms in the spring should Cleveland end up playing either the Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs.