Cedi Osman Opens Up About His Strong Relationship With LeBron James

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Despite having been a teammate of former Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James for a single season, second-year man Cedi Osman was able to connect with the future Hall of Famer. While James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, the bond between the two players continues to be strong.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com looked at how the differences between Oman, who grew up overseas, and James, who grew up in Akron’s inner city, faded through a desire to learn from each other about a variety of different things off the court. Osman now looks back on that time with warm memories:

“Every moment we had together was amazing because every day we were on the road we were talking about something different.”

Back in November, after James and the Lakers had defeated the Cavaliers, James spoke about how a change of uniforms hasn’t changed what first developed last season:

“My relationship has grown even stronger with Cedi even though I’ve been on another coast. I’ve been keeping up with him throughout this season and the best thing I told him tonight, I told him, ‘You finally took my advice and started wearing Nikes.'”

The start of the relationship was seemingly doomed because it literally got off on the wrong foot during last season’s training camp. In the team’s first scrimmage, Osman awkwardly stepped on James’ ankle, resulting in a sprain. Cavs veteran Channing Frye jokingly recounted the immediate aftermath to Fedor:

“Man, Cedi saw his life — and his career — flash before his eyes. He was about to be on the first flight back to Istanbul.”

Yet Osman says that sparked their close friendship, since it played into James’ competitive instincts:

“That was the time when I felt I started earning that respect. That’s what he liked to see, that I’m fighting hard, that I’m working hard.”

Osman watched the connection get stronger and took every opportunity to absorb James’ basketball wisdom:

“For me, every practice with him, dinner, lunch, being together was special. It was my favorite. I will say I was really proud when he was talking about me to the media. What he was saying about me, all that good stuff, that was really special to me.”

In those media discussions, James would cite Osman’s assets, which included a growing knowledge of the game and a dedicated work ethic. When the veteran would periodically connect for game-winning shots, he made it a priority to run to Osman to begin the team celebration.

When James left last July, Osman used social media to offer a heartfelt goodbye. Soon after, Osman accepted an offer by James to take part in a Los Angeles training session, seeing it as a valuable learning experience and continue his friendship with James:

“What do you expect me to say? I said, ‘Of course, you know, that would be perfect.’ First day we worked out together and then the next day he said we were going to work out with KD and Kawhi. I was like so excited and said, ‘Wow, three best small forwards in the world and I’m going to have opportunity to learn from them and work out with them.’

“That’s something I will not forget ever. Because always watching them on the TV when I was a kid or playing the games with them and then one time practicing with them so it was an amazing feeling.”

The two still communicate frequently, despite the long distance between them. Osman was especially touched in November, when he was forced to sit out games due to back spasms and received a message from James:

“He was asking how I was feeling and stuff like that. He’s my favorite player in the world but having him ask how my back is and caring about me, that’s something that’s really special.”

Even though James won’t play in Sunday night’s game between the Cavaliers and Lakers because of injury, it seems certain that the two players will chat before the game or after. Over the remainder of their careers, the current strength of their friendship only figures to grow,

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.