After being widely accused of pushing Cleveland's front office to fire coach David Blatt last week, LeBron James said the criticism is unfair.
"I've never, in my time since I picked up a basketball, ever undermined a coach, ever disrespected a coach," James said following a shootaround Wednesday as the Cavaliers prepared to play the visiting Phoenix Suns.
Blatt was fired Friday midway through his second season despite having the Cavaliers atop the Eastern Conference standings and leading the team to the NBA Finals last season.
On Tuesday, a Heat limited partner said on Israeli radio that James tried to get Erik Spoelstra fired in Miami. Ranaan Katz later retracted his statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Blatt was replaced by Tyronn Lue, his top assistant.
There was an obvious disconnect between James and Blatt, who was successful in Europe and hired by Cleveland before James' return to the Cavaliers in 2014.
James often ignored Blatt during games, preferring to discuss strategy with Lue during timeouts. James also famously changed a play designed by Blatt during the playoffs last season before hitting a game-winning jumper to beat Chicago.
James said his willingness to speak his mind has led to the criticism of him.
"I've voiced my opinion about certain things, which I did when I was here my first stint with Paul Silas and Mike Brown. Which I did in Miami with Coach Spo. Which I did with Blatt and I'll do with T. Lue," he said. "And at the end of the day, they'll still have their final call.
"But, I don't know. What do you guys want me to do, turn my brain off because I have a huge basketball IQ?"
Clippers forward Blake Griffin watched his teammates win Tuesday night, then apologized for not being there to help.
Shortly after Los Angeles won 91-89 victory at Indiana, Griffin used his Twitter account to say he regretted being sent home after breaking his shooting hand by punching a Clippers staff member during the road trip.
He is expected to miss four to six weeks.
"A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about," Griffin wrote.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Griffin could face punishment for his actions.
All-Star coaches set
San Antonio's Gregg Popovich will coach the NBA's West All-Stars on Feb. 14 in Toronto, even though Golden State has the best conference mark.
The Warriors' Steve Kerr, who returned from back surgery last week, was ineligible by NBA rules that prohibit the same coaches in back-to-back seasons.
New Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue and his staff will handle the East All-Stars. Cleveland clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference at the break with a 115-93 win over Phoenix on Wednesday. Lue is 2-1 as a head coach.
Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic had an appendectomy. He is expected to return after the All-Star break. He was averaging 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.