Workers remove the Nike LeBron James banner from the Sherwin-Williams building in Cleveland, Ohio. Picture: Jason Miller/Getty Images
Workers remove the Nike LeBron James banner from the Sherwin-Williams building in Cleveland, Ohio. Picture: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cavaliers rue LeBron's departure but thank him all the same

THE general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers says he is "extremely thankful" for LeBron James' contributions to the club, but has admitted "a level of hurt" over the superstar's departure to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Koby Altman explained the range of emotions he experienced in dealing with the loss of James, the greatest player in franchise history, who led the Cavaliers to their only NBA championship in 2016.

"When you first get hit with it, there is a level of hurt," Altman told ESPN.

"You're hurt because of what you went through for the four years with him and what he meant to us.

"But I was extremely thankful at the same time. I realise what we accomplished this year and the last four years, and we did a lot.

"I mean, it was four incredible years led by him."

Altman said he found out about LeBron's decision to leave when the star's agent Rich Paul called him last Sunday.

Altman said after hearing the news, he immediately called a group of the team's senior players, including Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver, JR Smith and George Hill.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue later said he also "was shocked and hurt a little bit by the decision".

"But like I said," Lue said, "we talked, and he said that I'm his favourite guy, he loved being coached by me, he loved the four seasons we had together, and that this decision was totally just a decision for himself and his family. I can live with that."

Altman added, "So we can't take it personal. We're not bitter.

"We're thankful and happy that he spent the last four years with us, and again, I personally have a lot of gratitude for what he did for my career ... I have a championship ring. That's an incredible thing that we accomplished."

- Reuters



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