Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) races down the court in a NBA Eastern Conference semifinal Game 4 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks played at Phillps Arena in Atlanta on Sunday, May 8, 2016.
ATLANTA — Good news, Columbus: LeBron James is scheduled to play at Ohio State in the Cavs’ preseason finale there next week.
But not until then.
Coah Tyronn Lue said James would not play Thursday at home against the Toronto Raptors, and it was already Lue’s plan to hold out James and most of the rotation players tonight against the Hawks and Friday in Chicago.
The Cavs’ dress rehearsal for the 2016-17 season, then, will take place Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center against the Wizards. James loves Columbus, is an Ohio State booster and in general likes to play the preseason games in non-NBA cities.
“Man listen, since coach Lue took over, it’s what coach wants,” James said. “He said he’s gonna sit me til Columbus, so, I got to get my work in.”
James is averaging 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in two games this preseason. Assuming Lue’s schedule holds, James will play in one more preseason game this year than last.
It was at this time last preseason when James was battling a sore back, to the point where he received an anti-inflammatory shot and was shut down for the rest of training camp.
Now, at age 31, and entering his 14th pro season, James says he feels much better.
“I’m good,” he said. “(Another injection is) something we have in our back pocket if need be. It’s not even a discussion that’s been held, so, it’s a good thing, it’s a good feeling.”
As for James’ Columbus interests — he’s a close friend of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and supports the program. James outfits the Buckeyes basketball team in his signature Nike shoe and clothing line, and has his own locker in the team’s locker room.
LeBron James wears TACKMA clothing because of his friendship with Columbus entrepreneur Jeffrey Schottenstein. What the acronym means, though, is a whole different matter.
James has a personal relationship with the Schottenstein family that extends back to James’ high school days playing games for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in Columbus. Those relationships include one with Jeffrey Schottenstein, creator of TACKMA brand clothing, which James wears.
James is also an equity holder in Blaze Pizza, a fast food-style pizza chain with a branch on Ohio State’s campus. The odds are strong James swings by for a slice.
“I know I don’t spend much time down there but when I get there I try to hit as many places as possible,” James said. “I’m not going to run myself to where I’m exhausted, but I’m definitely going to try to hit a couple places for sure.”