Running a team around LeBron James isn't as fun asone might think, at least in former ClevelandCavaliers general manager David Griffin'sexperience.
Griffin, the New Orleans Pelicans' new vicepresidentof basketball operations, told SportsIllustrated's Jake Fischer he was "miserable" tryingto build around the superstar and knew he wouldleave after the Cavs won the 2016 title.
Griffin was promoted to general manager in February 2014 and that summer James decided torejoin the Cavs to bring a title home. The GM at first celebrated, then broke down thinking ofburden.
The pressures of annually supplementing LeBron James with a contending roster mountedendlessly.
"Everything we did was so inorganic and unsustainable and, frankly, not fun. I wasmiserable," Griffin says. "Literally the moment we won the championship I knew I was gonnaleave. There was no way I was gonna stay for any amount of money."
James was also under year-to-year contracts and Griffin said the teams "won despite ourculture to a huge degree."
He told SI he wanted to do things differently and realized if you prioritize the destinationdespite everything "that might be the only time you get there." The feature was about hisrenewed optimism and drive building the Pelicans.
The Cavs reached the NBA Finals four consecutive seasons beginning in 2014-15, all against theGolden State Warriors. After coming back from a 3-1 final series deficit, the city got its firstchampionship in 2015-16.
Griffin "privately wept in an Oakland broom closet," Fischer writes, while the team partied."Ididn't watch the league, and I didn't love the game anymore. I was so fixated on outcome thatI just totally lost my joy."
The Cavs did not renew his contract after the 2017 NBA Finals, concluding three years andone title. James lobbied for him to receive an extension earlier that year.
Griffin took time off from basketball operations and did NBA TV appearances. He accepted thejob with the Pelicans in April.
Griffin recognized two key aspects of a team led by James. He was the uncontested star of theCavs, as he is again with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his signing was dubbed the return of theking.
The first thing is, anything good will be attributed to him and anything bad likely won't. Via SI: "The reason [it's overwhelming] is LeBron is getting all the credit and none of the blame. And that's not fun for people," Griffin says. "They don't like being part of that world."
The second is that there are dilemmas specific to leading a superstar to his coveted title. Muchhas been made of how much say James has in choosing his coach and how much say thecoach has in doing his job. Griffin said James approved of him in part because they haddialogue.
"You've got to be willing to have very difficult conversations with LeBron," Griffin says. "Ialways was, which is why we had a great relationship, because I would tell him what he neededto hear and he respected that I was telling him that for the right reasons."
Griffin told SI he doesn't think James is "the same animal anymore about winning" and thatthere's not much else for him to accomplish.
Many believe James signed with the Lakers to further his entertainment businesses andHollywood career. He's currently filming the anticipated "Space Jam 2" and has other filmventures in the works.
Then there's his statement from 2017 that he wants to play in the NBA with his son, LeBronJames Jr.
LeBron James Jr. (aka Bronny) will turn 15 in October and the scouting reports are mixed. Hisdunk sealed his team's Big Time Hoops tournament title over the weekend and James took theheat for being, well, a little Lavar Ball-esque.
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