Shortly after David Griffin became the Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, LeBron James returned to his hometown for a second stint and significantly changed expectations.
In an accelerated process to win the Cavaliers their first championship, Griffin established a Big 3 with James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. And during his three seasons as general manager, they won one in three consecutive NBA Finals appearances versus the Golden State Warriors.
As Griffin’s deal was not renewed for the 2017-18 NBA season, he has since become the New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations.
Reflecting on his time with the Cavaliers, Griffin made some controversial comments about James’ second stint, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated:
Griffin celebrated at first, then collapsed on his office floor in tears after James’ letter ran on SI.com, overwhelmed by the sudden pressure to deliver The King’s coveted ring. Noise around a superteam is deafening. It can cause combustible conditions. “The reason is LeBron is getting all the credit and none of the blame. And that’s not fun for people,” Griffin says. “They don’t like being part of that world.”
As for James and his camp, they reportedly were ‘shocked’ by how Griffin characterized the 34-year-old, via ESPN:
Sources close to James told ESPN on Thursday they were “shocked” at Griffin’s characterization of the superstar. James seemingly addressed the Griffin story via a tweet Thursday without mentioning him by name.
Griffin and a person close to James spoke to each other after the SI story was published, sources told ESPN, and Griffin expressed that some context was missing behind his comments. James’ camp encouraged Griffin to clear up his stance on the record, sources said.
Despite rare and public support from James since his departure from Cleveland, it is unclear what motivated Griffin to make these type of comments two seasons later.
With James, there will always be championship expectations after winning three of them in eight consecutive Finals appearances in the Eastern Conference.
After Year 1 with the Lakers did not go according to plan for James on an individual and team level, he should be extremely motivated to prove he is still the best player in the game and can lead Los Angeles to their 17th championship.