Cavaliers forward LeBron James unleashed a hail of sentiment regarding youth sports and how in some respects adults, especially in basketball, are shortchanging players, and thus the game, in a barrage of tweets Sunday night.

At Monday morning’s shootaround before the Cavs played the San Antonio Spurs, James, whose two sons play in AAU basketball, couldn’t pinpoint what brought on the tweetstorm, only that it’s been on his chest for a while and manifested itself while he was getting a massage.

“The fundamentals are not being taught, tough love is not being brought to the game,” he said. “When you allow a kid with talent to just have a pass for so long, it gets to a point where if he’s able to get to this point, everything’s come so easy to him, he has no work ethic. I think it’s affected our game a little bit.”

James said he’s seen how some coaches, trainers and others benefit from having connections to a particular player or players and then lose perspective. They work to fulfill their respective agendas.

“My high school coach just won his fourth state championship at the same high school I played at. My coach before that is the all-time winningest coach at the University of Akron,” he said of St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dru Joyce II and UA coach Keith Dambrot.

“But they weren’t doing it because they felt they had something to gain from it. They were doing it because they loved the kids and they wanted the kids to be successful. I think it’s a dangerous thing and I don’t think it gets talked about a lot. It’s a dangerous thing when it comes to the fundamentals of the game and the fundamentals of sport in general.”

‘There’s no shortcuts’

Joyce, reached by phone Monday, spoke of looking for places to practice in Cleveland when James was a preteen and how James was focused on his goal as a 10-year-old.

“It wasn’t about play time,” he said. “It was serious.”

Joyce said focus was a hallmark of the St. V-M teams he and Dambrot coached, which also included Dru Joyce III and Romeo Travis.

“That group, for the most part, no clowning around, it was all about business,” he said. “We always told them there’s no shortcuts through this. It’s all about the hard work. You have to put in the work.”

James appreciated the knowledge they imparted.

“They showed toughness and stayed on me every single day!” he said in one of his Sunday night tweets. “Never sugar [coated] nothing … and lit me up when I wasn’t applying.”

Ultimately, James said he was thankful for the tough love and guidance he received from those close to him.

“We definitely pulled no punches with those guys,” Joyce said.

The result can’t be denied. James and teammates on those St. V-M squads went on to enjoy varying degrees of success in college and the pros.

‘Whatever they want’

James said he understood what South Carolina coach Frank Martin meant when he talked about adults being at the root of the problem because they let the players walk all over them.

“We’re allowing these kids to do whatever they want to do instead of being tougher on them and just breaking down walls,” he said.

Joyce has coached his share of players who’ve gone on to greater success.

He said that a mixture of factors contributes to what James talked about, including a lack of focus on the part of some student-athletes and a sense of entitlement that comes from some of the parents.

Coaches such as Joyce still broker in reality, but it’s not all on them.

“There’s got to be a time when you’re willing to go to the other end of the court instead of playing pickup,” Joyce said. “You have to be willing to go to the other end of the court by yourself and work to get better.”

James agreed.

“Like I said in my tweet, I was pushed and kicked and loved, and then I was pushed and kicked some more,” he said. “You have to know that in order to know exactly what you’re going to get out of yourself as a young man.”

Beacon Journal sports writer Marla Ridenour contributed to this report. George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.