A slimmed down LeBron James explained how his decision to bolt from the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been influenced by the Heat’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. In an interview with CNN’s Rachel Nichols that will air on Friday, James addressed the odds of him re-signing with the Heat had they won their third straight title in June.
"It's a greater chance, for sure," James said with a laugh. "It would be hard to leave back-to-back-to-back championships, and try to go for four. But, obviously, you really can't live and think of what may have happened. For me, I've always been a person who kind of lives in the moment."
James stated that he had thoughts about returning to the Cavs, the team that drafted him in 2003, but didn’t expect to return this soon. There was a great deal of tension between James and owner Dan Gilbert, who described James’s decision to sign with Miami in 2010 as a “cowardly betrayal.” James stated that he had to mend the relationship with Gilbert in person this summer after the two didn’t speak for four years.
“In order for me to ultimately make the decision to come back, I needed to speak to Dan, face to face, man to man.
"It was a straightforward conversation, with no beating around the bush. He basically said, 'No matter what decision you make, we wanted to clear the air to where if we see each other in public or we see each other wherever. If I'm competing against you, we can always shake each other's hands, and look at the fun times that we had in Cleveland, while we were together, instead of focusing on the one night that everyone kind of focuses on.”
The 29-year-old also delved into details of his strict diet that helped him trim down to the 250-pound range. James said he avoided carbohydrates, sugar, and dairy. A thinner version of James might be helpful for the more fast-paced style he is expected to play in Cleveland.
James left Miami, a team with veterans like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, for a young Cavs squad that includes Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Dion Waiters. The Cavaliers recently acquired star power forward Kevin Love by sending prized prospect Andrew Wiggins in a trade package to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cavs are the top favorites to win the 2015 NBA Finals at 5/2 odds. They are followed by the San Antonio Spurs (4/1) and Chicago Bulls (11/2). The Heat are 40/1 favorites.