LeBron James scowled and scoffed at the notion that he has earned a reputation as a coach killer.
"I've never, in my time since I picked up a basketball, ever undermined a coach, ever disrespected a coach," James said after the Cleveland Cavaliers held a shootaround Wednesday morning. "You ask any of my little league coaches, my high school coaches, coaches I've played for in tournaments, camps, my NBA coaches. I've always respected what they wanted to do. And I'm not the owner of a team, I'm not the GM of a team. I'm the player of a team."
"People get it so misconstrued because I'm a smart basketball player and I've voiced my opinion about certain things, which I did when I was here my first stint with Paul Silas and Mike Brown," he said. "And at the end of the day, they'll still have their final call."
Whether James undermined Blatt is open to interpretation. General manager David Griffin was adamant the decision to fire Blatt was not made by James, but by Griffin and approved by owner Dan Gilbert. James and Blatt co-existed, but there was friction between the four-time MVP and second-year coach. Last season, James announced to media that he was changing his position. Asked whether he ran the move past Blatt, James said he was at the point in his career when that wasn't necessary. He took time to find harmony with Spoelstra in Miami.
On an Israeli radio station, Heat minority owner Raanan Katz said James made it clear "he wanted to dump head coach Erik Spoelstra." However, the Miami Heat denied that was the case in a statement to Bleacher Report and Katz said the translation from Hebrew to English was not correct.
James, who denied he even knew Katz, said Wednesday that perception is not reality.
"I don't know," James said. "What do you guys want me to do, turn my brain off because I have a huge basketball IQ? If that's what they want me to do, I'm not going to do it because I've got so much to give to the game. There's no difference for me telling my teammates or telling guys how to get better with their game. If I feel I got something that will help our team, ultimately, I like to give it. It helped me get two titles. So, but I think it does suck that people want to throw my name in dirt for no particular reason, because of speculation or whatever the case may be. But you can't worry about it too much. I got 14 guys here. I got a fan base here and a fan base all over the world that loves what I do, and they respect what I do, and I can't worry about a select group of people that wants to use their negative energy to take away my positive energy. I can't allow that to happen."