No LeBron, but Akron fans enjoy Cavs scrimmage
AKRON, Ohio (AP)
Fans in LeBron James' hometown still enjoy watching the Cleveland Cavaliers.
An estimated crowd of more than 4,000 got acquainted with the new-look Cavaliers at the team's annual Wine and Gold scrimmage on Friday night at James A. Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron.
''I was a Cavaliers fan before LeBron was born and I'll cheer for them until the day I die,'' said James Collins of Akron. ''We had great teams with LeBron, but he's gone. We had great teams with other players before LeBron. They're gone. The fans are still here.''
There wasn't a James jersey to be found, though some fans wore replica uniforms of past Cavs greats World B. Free, Mark Price and Ben Wallace.
They watched along with new coach Byron Scott a radically revamped roster. Gone are James, Shaquille O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Delonte West and others who helped Cleveland to the NBA's best record (61-21) last season.
First-year coach Byron Scott took the microphone at center court before the tipoff to thank the fans and gave them this message: ''I can tell you this team will be very excited and play hard.''
Three key performers did not participate. Forward Antawn Jamison sat out with tendinitis in his left knee and point guard Mo Williams tested his strained right groin during warmups, then sat and watched, too. Center Anderson Varajao is in Brazil for the funeral of his grandfather.
''Until we get those top three back, there's an opportunity for others,'' Scott said. ''I told Antawn and Mo to take it easy. I'm not worried at all (with their condition).''
Jamison and guard Anthony Parker took turns coaching the teams in the fourth quarter.
''Antawn got upset, called a timeout and walked around with his arms folded,'' joked Scott. ''He looked all right.''
Ramon Sessions, acquired in a July trade from Minnesota, led all players with 13 points and four assists.
Scott was pleased with the overall play, though he emphasized his new offensive schemes remain a work in progress.
''They're still thinking, not reacting,'' Scott said. ''That's to be expected when you put in a whole new offense.''
Cleveland will play host to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday in the first of its eight preseason games.