CLEVELAND — LeBron James still attracts a crowd whenever he comes to Quicken Loans Arena.
The Miami Heat small forward was riding a stationary bike in the hallway outside his team’s locker room prior to pregame media availability Tuesday, with dozens of reporters waiting patiently as he donned headphones and sang loudly — and poorly — while messing with his iPhone.
After disappearing into the Heat locker room momentarily, James came back out and entered a side room, where he answered questions for about 10 minutes.
“It’s hard for me to think about,” the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder said when asked if wanted to someday play for the Cavaliers again. “We have 20 or less (regular-season) games until we gear up for two months, no sleep (in the playoffs), hopefully. For me to try to take my mind somewhere else when I know it’s on the way is almost impossible.”
James, who can opt out of his contract in July and become an unrestricted free agent, said he liked the Cavs’ offseason moves, but didn’t question why they didn’t pan out, though he did say he thought Cleveland would have a better record than the 26-41 mark it brought into Tuesday.
“They have some really, really good pieces,” the 29-year-old said. “Who am I to say they should play better or not? I’m not there every day.”
James said he had not yet reached out to Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, who will miss at least two weeks with a strained tendon in his left biceps, but said a close friend did.
“Hopefully, he’ll get back on the floor soon,” the Akron native said. “He’s an unbelievable talent and a great piece for this franchise.”
James also said he was glad he was able to attend former teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony on March 8 at The Q.
“I understood it was going to be a special night,” he said. “It couldn’t happen to a better person.”
Asked if he thought the No. 23 jersey he wore in Cleveland would ever be retired, James said, “It’s not up to me to be concerned about or even think about. At the end of the day, it’s something we all as athletes aspire to.”
As he was leaving the interview, James was asked if he had filled out a billion-dollar NCAA Tournament bracket.
“No,” he said, “I’m just asking for it.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.