CLEVELAND -- LeBron James missed his second straight game because of soreness in his left knee, sitting out his team's 98-80 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. But he wants it known that he'll be around for the Cavaliers for the long haul.
James was also scratched Tuesday because of the knee, which previously caused him to sit out a game Dec. 11 in Oklahoma City. He reaggravated it on Christmas Day in Miami while jumping over a row of courtside seats while trying to track down an outlet pass from Kevin Love.
Even though James was not required to speak to the media because he was out of the lineup, he made himself available to answer a slew of questions in the locker room before the Bucks game about his health and the controversy surrounding his commitment to staying in Cleveland beyond this summer.
"It's been hurting pretty much all year," James said of his left knee. "I've been playing with it and it goes away and comes back. So, the one in Miami kind of reaggravated it when I came out of the game in the third quarter."
James said he was hopeful he could play Friday in Charlotte but, if not, is looking toward Sunday at home against the Dallas Mavericks. He said he is not concerned about the injury in the long term.
"I'm not concerned because all the tests and everything I've done with the doctors, everything has come back negative," James said. "So, I got 41,000 minutes in my career including the playoffs. You [try to] drive that car in the wintertime [and see how it feels]."
As for his future with the Cavs, James addressed a video showing a conversation between him and Dwyane Wade after the Cavaliers' loss to the Heat on Christmas Day that has gone viral. In the video, James clearly can be heard telling Wade, "We're going to reunite again and do some bigger and better things, all right?" Some websites interpreted James prefacing that statement to Wade with the caveat, "If we aren't better this year ..." however, the audio is muffled.
"I've seen the clip just like you've seen the clip," James said. "I don't know exactly what I said at the beginning, either. I know I said, 'We'll get back together and do some bigger and better things,' but it had nothing to do about basketball. I mean, if I was going to tell him that, I'd tell him the night before. Come on, guys. I'm not stupid. I know I didn't go to college, but I'm not stupid. I wouldn't say that on Christmas with a hundred cameras around. I would have told him the night before at his house.
"But, it's just me, so I get it. I get it. But it had nothing to do with leaving here and reuniting with him. It had everything to do with just talking about other things more than just basketball. Everybody gets so involved in basketball, our friendship, obviously, you guys know, is bigger than basketball. So, you know, our last four years couldn't be bigger and better even if we did get back together. But, whatever. It's crazy."
James also reaffirmed his commitment to Cleveland.
"I'm here to build something great in the present and in the future, and that's the reason I'm back," James said. "I got no other reason to have to continue to talk about things that's so outlandish. I'm here. This is where I'll be, and this is where I'm comfortable at."
By "outlandish," James was referring not only to the Wade video but also a Northeast Ohio Media Group report Monday that said James "won't hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting."
When asked about James' investment in the Cavs, coach David Blatt said James' intentions are obvious to him.
"I know why LeBron James came back to Cleveland, and I know what his commitment is to this team and to his teammates," Blatt said. "And I also know exactly what he wants to do here."
James admitted that his patience has been tested through the Cavs' underwhelming start, including three losses in their past four games.
"My tolerance for patience is not that great, and it's something I knew I had to work on," James said. "Especially coming here, it's going to be the biggest test of my career just being with a bunch of young guys and helping them understand what it means to have a professionalism and a work ethic every single day, so that's been testing and I understand that.
"Obviously with my injuries and other guys being out and us not capable of what we're capable of playing to [it is testing], but the inconsistency I kind of knew [would happen]. I figured it would happen. And that's why I try to stay patient. I try to not have my body language be as bad as it can be sometimes. I just try to keep my communication up, keep my spirits high and understand that once we get fully healthy -- obviously without Andy [Varejao], we know he's not going to make a return this year -- but if we keep going through the process, we'll be fine."
Beyond James' knee, the Cavs were also without Kevin Love (back spasms) and Shawn Marion (sore left ankle) on Wednesday, making for another challenging night for Cleveland while playing the second leg of a back-to-back. Brandon Knight scored 26 points, and the Bucks led most of the way in the win.
James said that he and the team simply must stay the course.
"Just stay even keel and knowing that there's always sunshine on the other side of the mountain, man," James said. "I don't get too high or too low, especially in the NBA season. It's too long, it's too many emotions, it's too many things, it's too many storylines that if you let yourself get involved in it too much that it can bother you mentally, and I've been able to just stay away from it."