LeBron admits, this season ‘most challenging’ of career

LeBron James of the Cavaliers calls this season the "most challenging" of his 15-year career.

There isn’t much LeBron James has not seen or experienced on the basketball court.

However, now in his 15th NBA season, the 33-year-old admitted after practice Wednesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence this has been the most difficult season for him.

“It’s been very challenging,” James said. “Just from the simple fact of how many guys have been in and out. This is a difficult year for our team. Seems like I say that every year, but this one has been even more challenging.”

The starting lineup, rotation and roster, as an entirety, being fluid all season has taken a toll, James said. For example, Derrick Rose (ankle) is expected to play his first game tonight since Nov. 7. Swingman Iman Shumpert (knee) is said to be close to returning. Two-time All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas only recently made his Cleveland debut after a seven-month layoff. Big man Tristan Thompson missed six weeks with a strained calf.

Fluid, indeed.

Cleveland (26-17) has lost four in a row, eight out of 10 and nine of its last dozen games headed into tonight’s game against Orlando (13-31) at Quicken Loans Arena.

“With everybody who has been out and coming back in, and the rotations, and things of that nature, it’s been very challenging on our team,” James said.

James isn’t about to run up the white flag, begin throwing a pity party or to point fingers. But, there is work to be done. Much work.

“But we have to figure it out,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have a game every other day or every two days just like everybody else in the NBA.

“We have to go out and play.”

A season ago, James qualified the 2016-17 season as the “strangest” of his career. Wednesday, he was asked to select which was worse, last season or this season?

“I don’t like to use the word ‘worse’ too much,” James said. “It’s another challenging year.”

“Challenging” enough to stop Cleveland’s run of three consecutive Eastern Conference championships as many national talking heads and even local scribes are speculating?

Or, does James believe he and his teammates have enough to win a second NBA championship in the last three seasons?

“That’s our goal and that’s what we got to work towards,” James said, not directly answering the question as posed. “That’s what we’re here for.”

James said there are no shortcuts to getting the Cavaliers back on track. It’s one day, one game at a time, starting with tonight against Orlando, which is tied for the worst record in the NBA with Atlanta and Sacramento.

“Just come out and compete,” he said. “Come out and compete. Get better every day.

“You show up to work every day like it’s your last opportunity to play, and then you live with the results.”