INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) - LeBron James keeps his Olympic gold medal in his home office, and from time to time Cleveland's star takes a peek at it.
``It's a pretty sight,'' he said.
James spent part of his summer helping the U.S. basketball team redeem its global superiority by winning it all at the Beijing Games. At just 23, he was the undisputed leader of that 12-player squad comprised of superstar talents and supersized egos.
``If you can lead 11 of the best guys in the world, you can lead anybody,'' James said Monday. ``If I can lead Kobe Bryant and MVPs, I should be able to lead Daniel Gibson.''
James has visions of another exquisite, glittering prize - the NBA championship trophy. And he thinks it's within the Cavaliers' reach.
``As a leader, I think I can lead these guys to the championship,'' he said. ``We really believe that. It's not about making the playoffs for our team anymore. It's about winning a championship.''
ng overwhelmed and swept in four straight by the San Antonio Spurs. Last season, they pushed the eventual champion Boston Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals but lost.
This year, the Cavs, who acquired point guard Mo Williams this summer in a trade from Milwaukee, feel they can finish the job.
``We all have one goal, and that's a championship,'' said Williams, who averaged 17.2 points, 6.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds for the Bucks. ``That's the goal, and we're not just talk. Every team in the league on media day is saying they are going to win a championship. But we're confident. We know that if we put in the work and focus, we can do it. It's all we talk about.''
On the eve of opening training camp, Cleveland is already in better shape than it was at the same point last year.
On Media Day 2007, two key players - forwards Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic- were in the early stages of contract holdouts that would carry on for weeks. Guard Eric Snow had just injured his knee during an off-season workout and was set for surgery, and guard Damon Jones used his first opportunity to meet with reporters to say he wanted to be traded.
It was hardly an idyllic start to camp, and the trouble carried over into the regular season.
The Cavaliers started out struggling and at the Feb. 21 trading deadline, general manager Danny Ferry turned over half his active roster.
pe is continuity will replace chaos this time.
``There's not much of an excuse now,'' James said. ``We have guys that can go out and play. Mo can dominate a game. We all know what I can do on the court. We had guys hold out for personal reasons last year. We had guys who were here, but not mentally here. It's just a different feeling.''
James, too, has a different aura about him as he enters his sixth season as a pro.
In many ways, he's still a kid. As he sat down to field questions, James tore open a bag of candy to snack on before posing for photographers who politely asked him to smile while demanding he hold a basketball every way its humanly possible. At one point, Varejao interrupted one session and stood next to his teammate wearing an ``I'm With Stupid'' T-shirt.
James seems to have already developed a strong bond with Williams, who scored a season-high 27 points against the Cavaliers last season.
``Mo Williams is an unbelievable talent,'' James said. ``You can watch any film of what he did to us last year in four games. It was like, 'Wow, he either has something against us or he's sending up smoke signals to go get him in a trade.''
Williams is the best point guard Cleveland has had since James arrived, and with him on the floor, the Cavs should be able to play at a faster pace than in previous years.
he ball up as much. I'm going to emphasize on just running the floor a lot. You look at me in the summer time, when I'm playing with great point guards like Jason Kidd and Deron Williams and Chris Paul. For the most part, you just see me run the floor. It's easy for me. Now with Mo Williams here and Delonte (West) and Boobie (Gibson), I can do that. I can get out on the break.''
James can't seem to get a break from the endless speculation that he intends to leave Cleveland as a free agent when his contract runs out in two years. But he has also fueled that by constantly wearing a New York Yankees cap and expressing his loyalty to the pinstripers, as well as the Dallas Cowboys.
James wishes all the talk would stop.
``I've never given no indication I was leaving Cleveland,'' James said. ``I never gave any indication I didn't like being here, every time I'm asked that question. I love being here. I love playing in front of these fans. My family is here. I grew up 30 miles away from here. I've never given any indication that I did not like playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now I did say I like the Yankees and the Cowboys. It has nothing to do with the Cavaliers.''
James smiled as he again explained his allegiance to out-of-town teams, a fact that rubs some Cleveland fans the wrong way.
the team to love. If I say I like Michael Jordan, is that a problem? If I didn't say (Cavaliers All-Star) Mark Price, is that a problem? Is it? That's who I grew up watching. These are the teams and people who inspired me when I was growing up.
``I have now broken it down for all of you.''

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