NEW ORLEANS – All-Star players from nine Eastern Conference teams spoke with LeBron James in a closed-door locker meeting last night to ask the Cavaliers star to see if he would be open to allowing a team not lead by him to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

“If we’re being honest, we all know we’re playing for conference runner-up,” said Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry. “I mean, it was great we traded for Serge Ibaka, but what does it really do for us unless Cleveland’s team plane crashes? As long as nothing catastrophic happens to them, we might what — at best lose to the Cavs in the conference finals now slightly less? Basically we all just decided to ask LeBron straight out if he would do us all a favor and sit a year out. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?”

The group that spoke to James left the meeting encouraged.

“He didn’t come right out and say ‘no,’ so I thought that was great,” said Pacers forward Paul George. “He just sat there with a bemused smile on his face. I’m not sure exactly what he was thinking. It was probably something like: ‘These guys are pathetic and are no match for me.’ But I can’t say that for sure.”

James confirmed that he did not speak much during the meeting, but “mainly listened to their concerns and tried to empathize. I did say that I would consider allowing one of their teams to go up 3-1 in the playoffs. I always enjoy a little challenge to make things more fun.”

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