The Cleveland Cavaliers are leading the Eastern Conference with a 51-21 record and are the favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals. But reading LeBron James' body language and his recent comments, you wouldn't know it.
On Thursday night in a 104-95 road loss to the 51-loss Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center, LeBron acted out after two defensive sequences led to easy buckets for the Nets.
First, after a Nets player took center Timofey Mozgov into the paint for a layup, LeBron pivoted away in disgust and yelled something to himself right in front of the Cavaliers' bench.
On a separate play, after the Cavaliers gave up a corner three, LeBron didn't get angry, didn't lash out, or even look all that upset. Instead, he shrugged, turned away, slumped his shoulders and dropped his head in profound disappointment.
On Twitter, Miami Heat columnist Ethan Skolnick, who covered LeBron closely during his championship-winning tenure in Miami, noted that he'd never seen LeBron act this way on the court during his time down South, except with Mario Chalmers, a famed member of LeBron's doghouse.
After the shocking loss, LeBron, who scored 30 points on the night, couldn't find the right words to express himself, although his on-court body language said it all.
LeBron's actions Thursday night follow an inauspicious trend of recent behavior from the Cavaliers' franchise player. Sure, he's yelled at teammates previously this season and allegedly orchestrated the firing of former Cavaliers head coach David Blatt in January, but even by LeBron's standards of questionable leadership, this past week has been weird.
Earlier this week, there was a controversy over whether or not LeBron had unfollowed the Cavaliers on social media -- a perfect non-story that became a bigger non-story following LeBron's non-denial denial of his unfollow button usage. During Saturday's 122-101 road loss to the Miami Heat, LeBron was seen chumming it up with former teammate and close friend Dwyane Wade, all while the Cavaliers were down by 21.
Following that game, a story published by Bleacher Report featured quotes from LeBron saying that he'd like to play with friends Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Wade (two of the three members of the banana boat crew) for a "year or two." LeBron's Saturday buddy-buddy time with Wade and the Bleacher Report quotes caused head coach Tyronn Lue and general manager David Griffin to privately speak to LeBron to address his seemingly troublesome attitude, according to Cleveland.com.
There's something amiss in Cleveland right now, and it's all centered around LeBron's universe -- a star so powerful that his gravitational pull puts everything he does under close inspection. For now, however, we only have one piece of advice for the four-time MVP and leader of the Eastern Conference's best team: Suck it up.