LeBron James doesn't mind if social media posts cause conflict

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Monday, March 7, 2016

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James pulled back the curtain a bit Monday on his recent flurry of tweets and Instagram posts. On one hand, he downplayed the significance of the dispatches. "It's just my mind working, that's all," James said after the Cleveland Cavaliers held shootaround in preparation for the Memphis Grizzlies. "I don't know if anything started it. Just my mind working. I got a beautiful mind and I want to use it sometimes in a social manner."

However, he was sure to relay that there's a method to his messages. It's not just haphazard raving to his combined 47 million-plus followers on the social media platforms.

"They're for the educated mind," James said. "So if you have an educated mind, they hit home for you. [Sunday] night I tweeted that consistency and structure breeds perfection, and if you take a shortcut or if you don't handle business, then you come up short. I think everybody should understand that. It's nothing between the lines, it's just life. You can't shortcut being perfect or trying to be as perfect as you can, or trying to get to a point where you just feel like you can succeed. So, for educated minds, it should be fine."

This is the tweet James was referring to:

It was preceded by this tweet earlier Sunday:

They came after James sent out several tweets last week that made some question if they were aimed at his teammates. He later said they were not directed at anyone on the Cavs; however, he offered no explanation beyond that. As if the tweets weren't enough, he also flooded his Instagram account Sunday. First, he posted a video of himself working out on the Cavs' off day.

"It's just who I am," James explained. "It's in me. I just got an obsession about my craft and about what I do and I don't know, it's just in me. I can't explain it. And like I said, I might get a little crazy about it. But I'm happy. I love it."

Later, he posted a Bitmoji depiction of himself dressed as Batman, with a quote from the movie "Batman Begins."

Many viewed the Batman post as the jump-the-shark moment for James' social media storm and the mocking began, with James' face on the cartoon being replaced with the crying Michael Jordan face that has been making the rounds. James was asked if he remembered another time where his tweets stirred up so much attention.

"Twitter hasn't been around that long, I'm kind of old," James said. "I don't know. I think the other question is when I stopped caring about what other people think. I can remember that, it was my second year in Miami. I just stopped, it became too much where I was worried about what other people think instead of just making the main thing the main thing, and that's just playing the game of basketball that I love and being happy about being in this situation. I'm a blessed kid from -- you guys know the story -- 40 miles south of here. I've got a beautiful family, beautiful teammates, and this game of basketball has brought me so much, so the outside noises just really don't affect me."

One of those "beautiful teammates," Kyrie Irving, entered into James' cryptic tweet territory on Monday morning with a tweet of his own.

It's unknown whether Irving's tweet was in response to James. Irving did not speak to reporters at shootaround. However, James said that any tension his tweets might be creating within Cleveland's locker room isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"If you don't have conflict throughout the course of a season (your team is lacking), even internal or external- sometimes, it becomes external, which you don't want to happen, but sometimes it happens and that's OK," James said. "I think conflict, it builds character. It builds even more trust. You're able to get on someone, someone's able to get on you and then the whistle blows and, let's get out and let's execute what needs to be done. I've always been like that since I was a kid.

"I got four best friends that used to get on my ass about being soft at times and not playing the right way and not being aggressive. Any time I wasn't aggressive when I was younger, they called me soft and I had to respond. I just come from a different style of basketball. I played outdoor basketball when I was a kid. If you didn't win, you might not play again for the rest of the day. Like, you might not play for the whole day if you didn't win. Conflict was just a part of basketball for me and for my friends growing up."

Any backlash James receives from the Twitter tactics, he says he is OK with it.

"Some of it I listen to, I use it as motivation," James said. "It never gets to a point in my mind where it's like, I should take it serious, because it doesn't matter ... If you've ever read Theodore Roosevelt, 'the man in the arena' [from his 1910 speech, "Citizenship in a Republic"], it basically just symbolizes if you've never been in the arena before, if you never had blood, sweat and tears before, felt the roar of the arena or been in the competition, then you can't really understand."

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