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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue apologizes to Memphis fans for resting LeBron James, defends decision

2016 NBA Finals - Game Four

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 10: Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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By sitting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for Wednesday’s game at the Grizzlies, the Cavaliers created a small firestorm. It seems any of the stars – especially LeBron – could have played, but rest took priority.

That didn’t go over well with old-school observers and fans in Memphis.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue addressed one of those groups.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of
“I’m sorry to the fans who have to go through this because you get a chance to see LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin one time a year,” Lue said. “I understand that, but it had nothing to do with the decision.”

“Of course you want to see LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love play,” Lue said. “But we have 11 other professionals in the locker room that are also professional players and will also give you everything they got. So hopefully they will give you a good game. Those guys in there are NBA champions also.

“So, I understand the fans’ reaction, but it was nothing toward the Memphis fans or the organization, or (Grizzlies coach David) Fizdale, who’s my guy.”

There’s a reason teams – especially those, like the Cavs, gearing up for a long playoff run – rest players. All the medical data indicates additional rest helps players and teams in the long run.

But stars like LeBron also help the league draw revenue, and by sitting him, the Cavaliers essentially emphasize their own interests and leave it to other teams to maximize revenue (some of which is shared).

There’s no easy answer here, but I appreciate Lue acknowledging the unintended effects of his decision and the people it harmed. If it makes Grizzlies fans feel any better, Memphis won by eight.