Tyronn Lue is not a name that jumps out in the coaching circles. He led LeBron James and the Cavs to a Championship in 2016, but most would say Lue's rule was minimal.
In a piece done by Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, Lue made a power move during Game 7 of The Finals that may have helped them secure the game.
Right before halftime, the Cavs trailed by three, and Lue decided to call out James during a timeout. And then he called him out again during halftime.
“Stop being so passive!” the coach barked. “Stop turning the ball over! And guard Draymond!” James’s numbers looked fine—12 points, seven rebounds, five assists—but he had unleashed a few sloppy passes and Draymond Green, his primary assignment, was 5 for 5 from three-point range. “Bron was mad, pissed off at me, and then we went into the locker room at halftime and I told him the same thing in front of all the guys,” Lue recalls. “He was mad again, pissed off again.”
After Lue finished, he saw James approach assistant coach Damon Jones in the locker room and overheard their exchange. “It’s messed up that T Lue is questioning me right now,” James said. The Cavaliers trailed by seven. The season was slipping.
“Everything I read all year is that you want to be coached, want to be held accountable, and trust T Lue,” Jones replied. “Why not trust him now?”
James was still rankled. He moved on to James Jones, his long-time teammate, who has ridden shotgun to the past six Finals. “I can’t believe this,” LeBron said.
“Well,” Jones responded, “is he telling the truth?”
Lue, ducking in and out of a back office, kept an eye on LeBron. “He stormed out of the locker room,” Lue says. The coach laughs as he tells the story. “I didn’t really think he was playing that bad,” Lue admits. “But I used to work for Doc Rivers in Boston, and he told me, ‘I never want to go into a Game 7 when the best player is on the other team.’ We had the best player. We needed him to be his best. I know he might have been tired, but f--- that. We had to ride him. And he had to take us home.”
Lue pushed LeBron in the game, which helped elevate him to another level. They would go on to win, with Lue not backing down too challenging LeBron James.
Maybe that is the key to coaching a guy like LBJ. Having the boldness and the bravery to call him out in the most demanding situations.