After his first win in the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching position, Tyronn Lue received the game ball from LeBron James. The move reversed an age-old tradition where the coach — who’s ostensibly in charge of the team — selects the player who gave the most outstanding performance and rewards him with the game ball as a keepsake. Whoever gives out the game ball, in other words, is the judge and jury — the person in charge. Those who hope to receive the game ball curry that man’s favor. The hierarchy in Cleveland is now clearly established. Not that there’s anything wrong with LeBron James running the team, but pretending it isn’t so is silly.
The second move that established — or identified — James’s new power was a lineup change. Replacing fired coach David Blatt favorite Timofey Mozgov at center for the Cavs was LeBron James’ favorite, Tristan Thompson. Thompson is represented by James’ agent Rich Paul — though James claimed not to be involved in negotiations on his behalf when Thompson held out for a new Cavaliers contract early in the season. Thompson finally signed a five-year, $80 million deal in October. Now he’s the starter under the LeBron James reign. If the Cavaliers don’t win it all, it won’t be on Tyronn Lue. LeBron James got next.
James and Thompson in October: