OAKLAND, Calif. -- A day before the start of his seventh straight NBA Finals, LeBron James' mind was far from focused on basketball and the Golden State Warriors.
He wanted to hug his children and wife back home in Ohio and talk to his two boys directly about racism after a racial slur was spray painted on the front gate to his house in Los Angeles.
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LA police were investigating Wednesday as James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers prepared for Thursday night's Game 1 at Golden State. Almost a year after James sat in this very place at Oracle Arena addressing the influence of Muhammad Ali following the heavyweight champion's death, James discussed the daily challenges of being black in the U.S.
"No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough," said James, who was visibly shaken. "We have a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America."
An unidentified person spray painted the N-word on the front gate of James' home in the Brentwood neighborhood Wednesday morning, said Capt. Patricia Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department. Neither James nor his family was at the home at the time (see full story).
NBA: Newcomers to Finals embrace rivalry
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Watching Part II of the Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals trilogy last spring, Kyle Korver came to a realization.
"These are the two best teams and if you were on one of these two teams you were hopeful that you'd be here at the end," Korver said Wednesday, a day before the teams meet for the third straight Finals. "I'm excited this worked out that I could be here."
Korver got added to the mix midway through the season when he was dealt from Atlanta to Cleveland and is one of a dozen players on the two rosters who weren't on these teams last June when the Cavs rallied from 3-1 down to win the title.
While much of the focus leading up to Cavs vs. Warriors III has been on how the addition of Kevin Durant to Golden State's star core led by Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will make life even more difficult for LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers, there are several other newcomers to the rivalry who could play a key role in determining which team wins a second title in this trilogy.
"It's pretty intense," Warriors center Zaza Pachulia said. "Obviously when you play against somebody and it's the third time in a row and split the seasons and championships, they don't like each other. ... Even though I wasn't here the last couple years, talking and hearing the stories and watching the film kind of transfers me and I feel like I've been part of this team" (see full story).