As usual, LeBron James commanded all the attention.
The assembled media -- an estimated 100 microphones and television cameras -- waited Thursday for him to enter the steamy gym at Flemengo, an all-sports complex just outside downtown. When he arrived, the focus immediately shifted.
The interviews with Brazilian native Anderson Varejao ceased. The small gathering around Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt scurried their way over to James at midcourt. The few fans granted access began to chant “Le-Bron, Le-Bron, Le-Bron.”
The only thing that has changed is his jersey color.
The league, and the world, is still all about LeBron.
“It’s great to be here, expanding our game all over the world,” James said. “We’re here to work. Miami is here to work and get better throughout training work.”
Three months after spurning the Miami Heat for the Cavs, James will reunite with his former teammates. This time, he will line up on the opposing bench when the teams meet Saturday for a preseason game at HSBC Arena.
“I think it’s going to be special to see those guys for sure on Saturday,” James said. “But both teams are here to work.”
Downplaying the matchup has come from both sides. What’s done is done. James left Miami after four seasons, leading the Heat to the NBA Finals each year. He brought two titles, putting the franchise in the company of the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
And now he has moved on to the next challenge of bringing a title to his home state.
“It doesn’t matter,” James said of facing the Heat. “It’s really not a storyline. It’s what you guys make of it. I made a decision, just like a lot of guys made decisions (last) summer. Both teams are trying to strive to win a championship and that’s it.”
Heat center Chris Bosh on Thursday clarified comments he made in Miami on Tuesday, that he was no longer concerned with anyone outside the Heat locker room. In Brazil, Bosh emphasized that there was no ill will, they had simply changed from teammates to competitors now.
When told of the Bosh comments, James agreed there was no bad blood between them. They plan to greet on the court before the game.
“I’m a different guy,” James said. “It’s just the preseason. I acknowledged those guys for sure. I’m still cool with all those guys. I’m not that far into it right now, as far as the competitive nature. It’s too early. If I put all of my mind in it right now, then I’d be drained too fast. I don’t see it that way right now.”