Sports / Basketball

LeBron shifting to playoff mode

By Associated Press In Cleveland LeBron is locked in already. (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-24 08:29

Now he's got to get the Cavs to, ahem, follow him.

Following a personal rite of spring he began several years ago, LeBron James has begun preparing for the upcoming NBA playoffs by limiting his access to social media in order to avoid outside distractions as he and the Cavaliers make another run at an NBA title.

James, who has coined his social media blackout "Zero Dark 23", took some early steps toward sharpening his focus by unfollowing the Cavaliers' account - and those of some media members - on Twitter.

That click, which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the online social networking giant's launch, caused a seismic wave on the Internet at nearly the same time James and the Cavs were clinching their second straight Central Division title.

James recorded his 41st career triple-double in Cleveland's 124-91 victory over Denver and then fueled more speculation afterward by refusing to comment on the reason he unfollowed @cavs.

And while the four-time league MVP did not offer any specifics on Wednesday, he did acknowledge he has shifted into playoff mode with several weeks still left in the season.

"I have, a little bit sooner than normal," he said following practice.

"But you know I understand that it's right around the corner and I want to start mentally preparing myself for the distance. So I'm just being a little more sharp-minded as of late, just gearing toward it."

Although he wants to engage less often on social media, James was back on Twitter twice on Wednesday. He first told his 29 million followers he might join Snapchat this week for "another way for my fans to ride with me throughout my journeys."

Later, James sent out prayers to TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is battling cancer.

James' social media habits have come under greater scrutiny during his second season back in Cleveland after he posted several mysterious messages, some of which seemed aimed at teammates.

His Twitter cleansing came on the same day he declined to speak following the team's morning shootaround, and James was also more subdued before the game.

James usually plays music while he dresses at his corner locker, barking out lyrics along with some of his hip-hop favorites. He is the Cavs' in-house DJ.

But before Monday's game, James kept his headphones on, prompting teammate Channing Frye to ask him why he was "hogging" the tunes.

In his 13th season, James, who has been to the Finals in each of the past five years, knows how to motivate himself and his teammates. And although the Cavs have the best record in the Eastern Conference, they have been inconsistent. Cleveland was beaten at Utah last week and blown out Saturday night in Miami.

James, though, feels the team is beginning to hit its stride at the perfect time.

"At the end of the day, we're 9-3 in our last 12, so, I mean, we're playing some good ball," he said. "We just didn't play how we want to play in the Utah game and in Miami, but we're playing some good ball."

James' dream is to bring Cleveland its first pro sports championship since 1964.

He and the Cavs took the first step by winning their division, the eighth straight for James, who sandwiched two straight around the four he won with Miami.

All-Star Game gets Hollywood treatment

The NBA All-Star Game is returning to Los Angeles in 2018.

The 67th showdown between elite squads from the Eastern and Western conferences will be played on Feb 18, 2018, at the Staples Center, home arena for the NBA Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles also hosted the All-Stars in 2004 and 2011 at the same venue. The Los Angeles area will host for the sixth time overall in three arenas.

Silver and Staples Center officials made the announcement before the Los Angeles Lakers hosted Memphis. T

The Lakers and Clippers essentially served as joint hosts of the 2011 game in which Blake Griffin won the dunk contest and Kobe Bryant earned his record fourth All-Star MVP award.

The Forum in Inglewood hosted the 1972 and 1983 All-Star games. The soon-to-be-demolished Los Angeles Sports Arena hosted the 1963 game.

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game will be staged in Charlotte, North Carolina.

(China Daily 03/24/2016 page24)

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