Boston Celtics rookie wing Jaylen Brown had a tall task in this past season’s Eastern Conference Finals: guard LeBron James. He was nervous. Guard the greatest player of his generation in the playoffs? During his rookie season? If he didn’t somehow mitigate his pre-game anxieties before tip-off, he’d have already lost half the battle. He finally settled on an unorthodox solution — to create a three-minute, 31-second rap song that he rapped, produced and composed himself, one that would boost his self-esteem and get him past the urge to vomit before games in nervousness. Brown listened to the song, entitled Building Blocks, several times before all five games of a playoff series in which he held his own against James defensively.
January 16, 2018 | 8:19 am EST Update
Following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 118-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday, multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix the problems that ail their current team to get back on a championship track.
Several prominent players, speaking on a condition of anonymity to ESPN, Cleveland.com and The Athletic, expressed doubt that the problems — an aging roster, defensively-challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players — could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy.
Multiple marquee Cleveland players spoke without attribution to cleveland.com, ESPN, and The Athletic after the loss to the Warriors, and league sources separately spoke to cleveland.com to describe a sullen and dour atmosphere on a team that a few short weeks ago was toasting in Napa, Calif. “Rotations are awful. IT (Isaiah Thomas) is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane,” said a league source. “There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”
There are questions as to whether the pieces put in place by owner Dan Gilbert’s new front office team, headed by general manager Koby Altman, fit together — regardless of opponent — and whether the Cavs will make a trade by the Feb. 8 deadline. (A league source countered that the team would certainly “try” to make a move.)
After this weekend, it’s sort of become a foregone conclusion to some: The Mavs want to attach themselves to DFW native Julius Randle of the Lakers. In trade. Free agency. Something. David Lord and I have been working on this story for a couple of days.