MINNEAPOLIS — Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue was in the minority when it came to watching LeBron James’ debut with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. At least, when it comes to the Cleveland locker room anyway.
His reaction to seeing James wear that famed jersey?
“Looks crazy. Looks strange,” Lue said prior to the Cavaliers’ shootaround Friday morning in Minnesota. “I’m happy for him. But it does look kind of weird to have on a Lakers jersey. Whatever.”
Lue played three years with the Lakers and started chuckling while explaining the difference between him, old Lakers and James when it comes to wearing those L.A. colors.
“Just different. Like he lost his powers,” Lue said with a laugh. “That Cleveland black and Cleveland maroon just looks, you know what I’m saying? Then going purple and gold, for a big guy like that, it took his powers away.”
Let’s keep that comment in context, shall we?
That was not some slight at James’ ability. He doesn’t really think James looked powerless as he scored 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists in a yet another loss in Portland. Nor was that Lue’s way of saying that James won’t be as dominant in Los Angeles as he was in Cleveland and Miami.
For Lue, it was just an eye-opener seeing James wearing those new colors and it will take time to get used to the new reality.
As for other members of the Cavaliers, a handful of them spent the night in Minnesota doing other things.
Center Tristan Thompson knew the question was coming as reporters approached him in the locker room.
“No, I didn’t watch the Lakers last night,” he said before the question could even be asked.
Kyle Korver didn’t watch either. He’s a basketball junkie. He took in the Celtics-76ers game on Opening Night from his hotel room in Toronto. But he didn’t catch LeBron’s Lakers debut. Instead, Korver went about 30 minutes outside of the city for his buddy’s show — a rap concert. It had been planned for a while.
Clearly the Cavs were in the minority with their Thursday viewing habits.
According to Turner Sports, TNT’s coverage of James’ debut delivered a 2.2 household rating, up 3 percent over the comparable game telecast of Lakers-Clippers last year. James’ debut also generated the network’s highest rating for an NBA game in the L.A. market since 2014.
Fans around the country were glued, sharing their thoughts on social media. NBA on TNT and NBA TV’s social media accounts garnered a 37 percent increase in video views compared to last year.