The Cleveland Cavaliers first three-game losing streak of the season has LeBron James declaring the defending champs have "got to get out of the honeymoon stage" and find a way to go back on the attack.
"You've got to play the game the right way," the four-time league MVP and three-time champ added. "You've got to battle every night like we ain't won nothing. Last year is last year. Now it's a new season and everybody is gunning for us. It's time to play some real ball and be physical. We've got to man up. Everybody."
On a night fans in Cleveland might all agree had a bad look to it right from the very start, the Cavs showed little resistance against the Chicago Bulls in their most recent defeat, going down 111-105.
To settle a World Series bet with former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, James arrived at the United Center sporting a Chicago Cubs uniform and things only got uglier from there for Cleveland fans.
With Toronto and New York looming, the loss for the Cavs marked the first time they have faced defeat in 30-games when James (27 points, 13 assists) has totaled 20-plus points and 10-plus assists.
The Raptors pushed the Cavs to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season and with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Brandon Jennings joining Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis the new-look Knicks have won seven of 10.
"Right now, we're using LeBron way too much," said coach Tyronn Lue. "When we have games like this and we're not clicking on all cylinders--- he has basically to make every play."
Part of the issue could be complacency. The Cavs' overall offensive and defensive numbers are noticeably down compared to last season and in a recent loss to Milwaukee veteran guard J.R. Smith wandered off the court to embrace Bucks' player Jason Terry in a development Lue deemed "embarrassing."
Overall, Smith is shooting just 30 percent from the floor this season, compared t0 43 percent over his career.
All-of-a-sudden, an even bigger issue could revolve around cohesion. Over their three-game slump, the Cavs have been outrebounded by an average of 11 per night and against the Bulls veteran big man Tristan Thompson managed just six boards.
Thompson is now romantically linked to reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and there have been rumblings some in the organization are concerned about the so-called "Kardashian Kurse" taking its effects.
Kardashian was once married to former NBA star Lamar Odom before his career infamously flamed out amid widespread rumors of rampant drug use. Later, she dated Houston Rockets star James Harden, right around the time the team fell from a No. 2 Western Conference playoff seed to a No. 8 over a season.
Before wedding the now troubled and recently hospitalized Kanye West Kardashian's older sister, Kim, was also once married to NBA veteran Kris Humphries for all of 72 days.
Word is James and Thompson have previously butted heads over the budding romance and the idea of Kardashian being around the team so much.
"LeBron is not going to take any nonsense and if Tristan starts focusing on being on TV and being a celebrity while dating Khloe, then that is where the problems will come," a source told Hollywood Life. "LeBron wants everyone to be ready to repeat as champs and bring another title to Cleveland."
For his part, Thompson is said to be fine with Kardashian attending as many of his games as she chooses and has let his teammates know just that.
James is also rumored to be driven by the notion of challenging Michael Jordan for the unofficial mantle of greatest of all time and seems convinced winning more titles will help bolster his argument.
[Featured Image by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]