LeBron James, the Miami Heat forward, has said that he will carry extra inspiration into games against Cleveland, his former club, after being called a quitter by the Cavaliers owner. "I do have motivation, a lot of motivation," James told GQ magazine in an article which was made public this week. James left the Cavaliers last month to sign a blockbuster six-year deal with the Miami Heat, joining his friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and prompting anger from Cavaliers' fans, some of whom burned replica James jerseys on the streets.
Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers owner, called James "selfish", "a quitter", "narcissistic" and "self-promotional" and said he felt betrayed by "the self-titled former king" leaving the team, vowing the Cavaliers would win their first title before James won his first NBA crown. The remarks brought Gilbert a US$100,000 (Dh367,000) fine from the NBA and a tough response from James in the magazine article.
"I don't think he ever cared about LeBron," James said of Gilbert. "My mother always told me: 'You will see the light of people when they hit adversity. You'll get a good sense of their character.' "Me and my family have seen the character of that man." The two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player also rejected the quitter label Gilbert hung upon him for his play-off failures with the Cavs during his time with the club.
"Every night on the court I give my all, and if I'm not giving 100 per cent, I criticise myself," James said. James said he had no regrets about announcing in a live television special his decision to leave the Cavaliers because the programme raised $2.5m for a youth charity he is involved with. It lured 10 million viewers, but drew widespread criticism as being too far over the top. James, who grew up in Akron, near Cleveland, also noted how the larger city was not as beloved by the playmaker as was his hometown.
"Clevelanders, because they were the bigger-city kids when we were growing up, looked down on us," James said. "So we didn't actually like Cleveland. We hated Cleveland growing up. There's a lot of people in Cleveland we still hate to this day." The Cavaliers have announced they would make another break from the James era by changing their uniform logo and colours, darkening the "wine" colour and brightening the "gold" hue compared to last year.
"Cleveland" will also be displayed in block letters rather than script on the front of the jersey. * Agence France Presse