The Cleveland Cavaliers' media day Friday was what might be termed a success, for local and national media personalities, plus assorted hangers on, certainly obtained the requisite quotes to fill one or more stories per day for the duration of training camp. The regular season kicks off against the New York Knicks on October 30.
But little was learned beyond the various cliched reiterations of the importance of teamwork, defense, sacrifice and "playing hungry."
The Cavaliers processed one by one for a press interview and then were shuttled to various media stations for one-on-ones. The players were largely cordial, and seemed not to mind that 90 percent of the the questions were directly related to LeBron James. (For which the media can't exactly be blamed).
"What does LeBron coming back mean for you?"
"How exactly did LeBron recruit you? Walk us through that process."
"How is your game going to change next to LeBron?"
"What kind of impact will LeBron have on and off the court?"
"How did you react when you heard that he was coming back?"
"Describe what' was going through your head when you thought you might be able to play with LeBron James." etc.
The answers were precisely as laudatory as you'd expect.
For the duration of the afternoon, whenever James emerged from back rooms or from his interview commitments, a gelatinous corps followed him with their cameras and notepads. His every smile (which were few and far between at first) were captured and tweeted in exquisite, many-vantaged detail.
Interviews revealed, indeed, that the LeBron love pumps powerfully within the Cavs' organization. From David Blatt, who declared solemnly that the team was "blessed" to have his leadership, to a down-to-earth Mike Miller, who, when asked what he would tell younger players who haven't yet played with LeBron, said, "your job is going to be a lot easier."
Among the most prominent takeaways otherwise was the idea that players recognize success won't come instantly, even when the superstars have been thus assembled.
"We're gonna lose 2-3 games and y'all are gonna say something crazy," said Shawn Marion. Dion Waiters reiterated the point, worrying that the media might overreact. Mike Miller referenced the rocky start of the Miami Heat team after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade there.
"The most important thing we learned is that a 9-8 start doesn't dictate where you finish."
But the encouraging – and expected – news is that everyone seems ready to sacrifice personal statistics for the good of the team.
"I'd be lying to you and everyone here if I told you I won't have to sacrifice," said Kevin Love.
"I'm completely fine with making sacrifices," Kyrie Irving said during his interview, "as long as we're all in for the same reason: to win a championship." Irving and others argued that the pressure of heightened expectations can be a good thing, Irving saying that he's looking forward to the pressure of "playing with a target on his back."
James gave a relatively low-key interview, with few quotable moments, other than a cute story of his two sons and how he consulted them before he decided to move back to Cleveland. (It was much the same way
that Mike Brown described, oddly enough, when he took the head coaching gig last year. LAST YEAR!)
But the best interview of the afternoon may have been Anderson Varejao. The Brazilian big man was all smiles as he gushed about this year's prospects. He can't wait for the season to get underway. On LeBron's return, he was equally jubilant:
"I was like a little boy who gets the gift he always wanted," Varejao said.