By RICK NOLAND
Assistant Sports Editor
INDEPENDENCE â€” The bad news for the Cavaliers is star forward LeBron James got hurt on Tuesday. The good news is the injury doesnâ€™t appear to be serious.
James suffered what U.S. Olympic team doctors called a mild right ankle sprain while practicing against a select squad of young NBA players in Las Vegas.
The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder landed on Kevin Durantâ€™s foot during a scrimmage and left practice. More details are expected to be released today.
â€œHe thinks itâ€™s a mild sprain,â€ U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters in Las Vegas. â€œOur trainers think itâ€™s a mild sprain. So weâ€™ll find out (today). But I donâ€™t think itâ€™s anything serious. Obviously, weâ€™ll look and see what happens (today).â€
James was reclining on a table behind the bench when reporters were admitted to practice at Valley High School. Trainers wrapped the ankle in a black brace and James hobbled off the court without speaking to the media.
â€œHe just turned it,â€ Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said Tuesday night. â€œItâ€™s something that has to be evaluated in the morning.â€
Ferry is not in Las Vegas, but he had spoken to assistant general manager Lance Blanks and assistant trainer Mike Mancias, who are both on hand. He said the organization continues to support Jamesâ€™ decision to play in the upcoming Beijing Olympics, just as it has endorsed his decision to participate in international competition throughout his pro career.
Along with Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, James has been the face of the 2008 U.S. squad, which has been dubbed â€œRedeem Teamâ€ as it attempts to recapture the gold medal.
â€œThis has been a positive thing for LeBron,â€ Ferry said. â€œHeâ€™s learned a lot and grown from doing it. Iâ€™m happy heâ€™s had such a positive experience so far.â€
James missed seven games last season â€” five due to a sprained left index finger, one due to a sprained right ankle and the regular-season finale in order to rest for the playoffs. The Cavaliers were 0-7 in those contests.
The 23-year-old has been remarkably durable during his five-year career, appearing in 391 of a possible 410 regular-season games (.954). He missed three games as a rookie, two in 2004-05, three in 2005-06 and four in 2006-07. The Akron native has played in all 46 of the Cavaliersâ€™ playoff games over the past three seasons.
James, who led the NBA in scoring last season at 30.0 points per game while also averaging 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists, led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007. Cleveland was eliminated in seven games by eventual champion Boston in the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals, with James pouring in 45 points in the final contest.
Noland may be reached at email@example.com or 330-721-4061.