Cavs players have shied away from talking about the return of LeBron James for the last week. But on Wednesday, with no other opponents standing in their way, the players seemed excited and ready to embrace what tomorrow night means.
"This game is not just for us," Mo Williams said. "It's the 20,000 fans and the millions watching who will be pulling for us. We've got people who aren't even Cavs fans who will be pulling for us. We've got a lot behind us."
Williams was pretty tight with James when the two were teammates, but not anymore. Williams has spoken to James only once since he left for Miami -- and that was when they coincidentally bumped into each other at Hopkins airport. Williams hasn't tried to contact James or heard from him since, and while he says it doesn't bother him, it's hard to believe whether or not that's true.
Of all the current players, Williams felt the most betrayed by James leaving and he let that be known on Twitter in the days following The Decision. Now he is ready to move on, but he understands the magnitude of the night.
"The whole world will be watching. It's epic," Williams said. "It's something that will go in the history books and I'll be part of it. I'm proud of that."
Before he was even asked a question by a reporter Wednesday, Williams called Thursday night "more than a game." He compared it to a playoff series, and for the Cavs, that's fairly accurate. This could be their postseason.
Boobie Gibson is the only player who remains in fairly regular contact with James. That's not going to change anytime soon. Gibson says there conversations center around life and their children more than basketball, and that James' decision to leave "never comes up." But Gibson is ready to attack his buddy Thursday night.
"You can best believe it won’t be anything nice when we get out on the floor together," Gibson said. "You won’t know that we’re friends. I’m going right at him. Then after the game we'll say our hi's and our goodbye's."
Everyone affiliated with the Cavs, from owner Dan Gilbert to the media relations staff, coach Byron Scott and the players are all pleading with fans not to do anything illegal on Thursday. That includes coming down onto the floor, throwing anything on the floor or doing anything that would embarrass the city nationally. Most everyone involved thinks the fans will behave themselves.
Both Williams and Gibson encouraged fans to be loud and to heckle James, but to do it in good taste.
"I understand the frustrations," Williams said. "I had the same frustrations, but when the results are something violent or the possibility of that, I think that's outside of basketball and outside of everything we stand for as an organization. Once we start talking about harming people and their well-being, that's taking it a little too far."