On Thursday night, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue returns to the sidelines after more than two weeks away due to health issues.
The hardest lifestyle change that Lue has had to make since he stepped away from the team on March 17?
Giving up soda.
“No Shirley Temples,” he said. “No orange juice and Sprite mixed, so I haven’t had soda in almost three weeks.”
Lue was facing health issues that included chest pains and a lack of sleep prior to him stepping away. Now, he has made numerous lifestyle changes trying to combat symptoms, along with taking medication.
“I guess the diet has probably been the toughest thing, just trying to eat better, eat cleaner,” Lue said. “I got a new chef and she’s been great, so that’s probably the hardest thing, just trying to eat better and exercising. I should be doing that anyway because I’ve been a professional athlete my whole life, so it’s just good to get back to doing that also.”
Overall, Lue told reporters at Cavs shootaround on Thursday that he feels “a lot better,” as a result of the changes. During the Cavs March 17 win over the Chicago Bulls, Lue began experiencing what he described as piercing chest pains. He did not return to the game and it was the third time this season he either did not coach or left a game early for the same reason. He then took his leave of absence after being encouraged to do so by both owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman.
Lue said it was fair to say he had to be talked into taking some time off.
“We’ve been going through so much this season and this year with all the trades and all the new guys coming in, and guys being hurt in and out of the lineup,” Lue said.
“Through the course of the season, it would have been smart to probably do it earlier, but just going through so much as the leader of the team I just couldn’t give that responsibility to (Larry Drew) when we were in the mix of all the drama and all that stuff. So I just tried to fight through it as best as possible. Once the Chicago game happened, once they told me that and to sit back and think about it, it was the best thing to do.”
Lue said during his leave, he was humbled after hearig from players and coaches throughout the league. Some of the best advice he received, he said, came from Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
Kerr has dealt with back issues and complications from surgery to try and mitigate those problems, causing him to take extensive time off over the last few seasons. Lue said Kerr told him to take his time and worry about his health first and foremost.
“We get so wrapped up in the game of basketball I think we kind of forget about everything else,” Lue said. “This was the first time in 20 years where I really just had a chance to focus on me and get myself right and he reminded of that. We get so wrapped up in the game that we forget about real life and it was the best advice I got, so thank Steve for that.”
Lue spoke with all the Cavs players during his absence and watched their games, and spoke with LeBron James “everyday or every other day.”
”We all noticed that his health wasn’t where he would like it to be or where it should be to just be living an everyday life, let alone being the coach of an NBA franchise,” James told reporters at shootaround. “We’re happy he’s in a great place now.”
“Having LeBron’s validation, just being like, ‘I got it. Take some time off, get yourself ready for the playoffs. I’ll take care of the team. I’ll make sure everything is good,’” Lue said. “And he’s playing at a high level, so he’s a man of his word.”