UPDATE on Monday, Feb. 9 at 11:10 am ET by Adam Fromal
James may have admitted that his original Twitter message was aimed at Kevin Love (among others), but he also doesn't want this story to blow out of proportion. Delivering a message—even in a public forum—doesn't mean there's a problem brewing in the Cleveland locker room.
If that were the case, James would handle the situation personally:
Let's not read too far between the lines here.
The Cavaliers star may have done a bit of philosophizing on social media, even admitting that he's kind of playing the part of armchair psychologist for a teammate going through some trying times. But there's still no reason to suspect a schism is growing in Northeast Ohio.
--End of update--
Late Saturday night, James sent a cryptic tweet advising an unknown to fit in rather than stand out as an individual:
But following Cleveland's 120-105 thumping of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon, James confirmed the tweet was directed at Kevin Love, who previously acknowledged that he wasn't interested in blending into a rapidly evolving Cavaliers system, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:
Speaking to reporters after Sunday's win, James explained the purpose of his tweet, according to the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd:
"It was more about people in general," James told a large group of reporters. "It was a general thought I had. Obviously whatever thought I have people try to encrypt it and Da Vinci code it and all that stuff. People are always trying to fit out instead of fit in and be part of something special. That’s what it’s all about."
Yet after the formal interview session, James was shown Love’s quote from October and smiled. When pressed on the coincidence a few moments later to a smaller handful of reporters, James laughed, "It’s not a coincidence, man."
While Love has experienced ups and downs as a member of the Cavaliers, he's coming off arguably his strongest month in wine and gold to date. In January, Love averaged 17.9 points and 11.1 rebounds as Cleveland posted an 11-6 record.
Apparently James' message resonated, too, because Love dropped a season-high 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting, hitting seven of his eight three-point attempts in Sunday's drubbing.
Though, to hear Love tell it, via Lloyd, James' comments haven't changed his approach or his feelings on the season so far:
I feel like I’ve done all the right things. I haven’t got upset or been down. There’s moments when I hope I would’ve played better but it’s a long, long season. I don’t know really what he’s talking about. I feel like I’ve sacrificed and I think everyone knows that. I’m not trying to downplay what he said, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job of trying to help this team.
Furthermore, Love and James have displayed excellent chemistry all year. According to NBA.com, Cleveland's star pairing has posted a net rating of plus-8.7 points per 100 possessions, which is a full point better than the net rating Love and Kyrie Irving have generated when sharing the floor.
The key moving forward will be working Love into a more comfortable rhythm from beyond the arc. He's knocking down just 35.8 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes, according to NBA.com, the quality that's made him the league's premier stretch 4.
Since Love previously told Northeast Ohio Media Group's Chris Haynes that he doesn't plan on opting out of his contract after this season, there should be plenty of time in the months ahead for Love, James and the rest of Cleveland's core to build upon the scary synergy they're already developing.
And with symbiotic hurdles cleared thanks to James' comments, it's time for the Cavaliers to make a drama-free title push.