HoopsHype LeBron James rumors

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Paul and James first crossed paths in the Akron-Canton Airport as they were about to board a flight to Atlanta. James, captivated by Paul’s Warren Moon throwback jersey, asked where he got it. It turned out that Paul was selling jerseys out of the trunk of his car and was going to Atlanta to buy more. He gave James his connection in Atlanta, and he told him to drop his name for a discount, and then went on his way. “It was fate,” Paul said. “I could have missed the plane. I could have taken an earlier flight. I could have not worn the jersey. I could have been having a bad day and not spoken to him.” New York Times

They traveled to Amateur Athletic Union tournaments together and played pickup games — Paul was a member of two state championship teams at Benedictine. But mostly they talked: about their favorite television shows and girlfriends, about the classmates at their respective Catholic schools and the affluence they took for granted, about the friends from the neighborhood that they had lost to jail or worse. They also talked about the grind that Gloria James and Rich Paul Sr. endured as single parents and the wisdom and drive each had handed down to them. “He had all these life skills that he got from his dad, and pretty soon I had all these people ask me, ‘Why do you have this Cleveland guy around?’ ” James said. New York Times

It did not get far. Not long after the Cavaliers drafted James out of high school with their top pick in the 2003 N.B.A. draft, he handed a paycheck over to Paul. It was Paul’s first two weeks of a $50,000 annual salary, to do what, exactly, neither of them knew. “He told me that he really didn’t have a job for me, but that he wanted me close and we’d figure it out,” Paul said. Maverick Carter and Randy Mims, two lifelong friends of James’s, were also put on the payroll, and the “Four Horsemen” were born. They had a signature handshake, and they put a silhouette of a knight on their tennis shoes. They promised one another that they would be more than an entourage or posse. They did not know how yet, but James said he knew that he was making a sound investment. New York Times

This summer, Paul told Griffin that James was interested in returning, but said there were no guarantees. “Once LeBron started getting serious about Cleveland, I knew he needed to sit with Dan in person,” said Paul. “He had to talk to him directly.” On July 6, Gilbert flew to South Florida to meet with James. They sat down at the kitchen table, and Gilbert apologized for the letter and “one terrible” night that had eclipsed the previous five rewarding years together. It was clear as well that James was ready to move on, but he was perhaps even more interested in whether the Cavs had the money to immediately build a championship team. Gilbert assured James the Cavs had the resources and were willing to use them. New York Times

August 17, 2014 Updates

Even if John Calipari had known LeBron James would eventually return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the University of Kentucky coach told The Courier-Journal he likely still would have signed his seven-year extension to stay with the Wildcats in June. He just couldn't leave more than a half-dozen players who themselves passed on the NBA draft to return to UK for another season. "They came back because it was good for them and their careers and they knew they needed more developing and coaching. That was by me. That's what they wanted," Calipari told the paper in an interview Sunday morning in the Bahamas. "So that made it a tough deal to say, 'I'm just going to leave these guys here.' With who? It may be somebody I don't know that wouldn't do the things for them that they needed to do. Now, obviously coaching at Kentucky is special. It is unique and special. But this, for me, becomes about these kids. I have no desire, nor am I out looking for (jobs). I got the job. I got the job. What would move me to stay was these kids need me here. That's what I'm doing. At the end of the day, that was what (kept him at UK). It wasn't money." Louisville Courier-Journal

Despite reports that he was in serious talks with Cleveland – and ultimately turned down the Cavs earlier this summer – Calipari was "not as (close) as everybody thought" to leaving for the NBA. But James, who Calipari has said he'd love to coach, had not made his decision at that point. Would that have made a difference? "No. No. I don't think so. Because he and I have a great relationship, but it's not based on me coaching him," Calipari said. "We've got a relationship. I've known him for years and years. We've always been friends. But it was never based on that. I've said that. I've had a chance to coach Derrick Rose, John Wall and DeMarcus (Cousins), Anthony Davis and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). And I'm leaving names off, but I've coached some of the best players in basketball, and it is a thrill. There's nothing better than that. Especially when those guys are all good guys. Well, LeBron is also that kind of player and that kind of person. But again, leaving guys who made decisions based on what's right for their career was something I couldn't have gotten by anyway." Louisville Courier-Journal

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