LeBron James is playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals. Well, Cavaliers shooting guard Joe Harris is playing in his first.
That’s because he’s a rookie. Harris averaged 2.7 points in 51 games this season.
Needless to say, the past few months – the past few weeks, especially – have been a whirlwind.
“Oh man, unreal,” Harris said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That’s the only way I can describe it. This is all I know coming into the NBA – making it to the Finals and playing with a guy we all consider on our end of the spectrum the best player in the world. (He) is making it seem easy – which, most people know that have played at that level, it’s probably one of the hardest things you can do.”
Harris, of course, is referring to James, who is averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1.8 steals in the playoffs.
“He’s unbelievable,” Harris said. “The thing that people kind of forget about (with) this guy (is his work ethic). I have to go in early (before practice for) rookie workouts. There’s always one guy that’s in the practice facility before I am, and that’s LeBron. He’s setting the tone every day for everyone.”
James often goes in early to lift, shoot and get medical treatment.
“If the best player in the world is coming in and putting in this work, putting in the work early, putting in the work after, everybody else just kind of follows suit,” Harris said. “He picked up the level of a lot of the other guys on the team. Obviously we have a lot of talent, but he just makes everybody so much better. Not only when we’re playing, but just from being a leader and setting the tone like that every single day.”
David Blatt deserves a little credit, too. The first-year NBA coach inherited a ton of talent, sure, but he also helped maximize it.
“He’s probably the luckiest coach in the NBA, but at the same time, it might be the worst position to be in just because of the expectations that he has,” Harris said. “He gets a chance to coach guys like Kyrie, K-Love, LeBron – he has some of the best talent in the NBA. But at the same time, he has to make it all work. He has to make sure that everybody’s egos are in check, are working together, everybody’s on the same page trying to accomplish the same goal. I think him having to come in and balance what he has, he’s done a really really good job.”
The Cavs started the season 19-20 but went 34-9 the rest of the way.
“It took us a little bit of time to get things figured out and get everybody on the same page,” Harris said. “But once we got things clicking and made a few additions to the team, things kind of just took off for us. Everybody kind of meshed and got on the same page. Unbelievable transition from the early part of the season. It just took us a little bit of time to get everything on the same page.”
Now that they have, the Cavaliers are hoping for four more wins. So is the entire city of Cleveland.
“The energy in the city, it’s unreal,” Harris said. “The fans have been waiting a long time for this. They deserve it. They’re some of the best fans in sports. For them to experience something like that, something that they’re never going to forget – something that we’re never going to forget – (it’s) something that a lot of them have been waiting for for a long time.”