Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Cedi Osman didn't play alongside LeBron James for more than a season, but the Turk remains a close friend even with the latter moving to Los Angeles last summer.
Drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015, Osman's rights were immediately traded to the Cavs, who officially signed him in July of 2017.
As far as the player was concerned, his NBA career could have ended shortly after, as he stepped on James' foot during a September scrimmage, sending the superstar hobbling off the court with a nasty ankle sprain.
One more time before #Cavs tipoff tonight -- From stepping on his foot to dinners on the road and frequent text messages: How Cedi Osman earned LeBron's respect, built a special bond & learned lessons that are helping him through this brutal season https://t.co/s813mEtFNh— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) January 14, 2019
"There was Osman, a rookie taking part in his first official NBA training camp. He had left Turkey and was in a new country, trying to prove that he belonged, trying to earn the respect of his new teammates that had only known him from grainy YouTube clips and a Head and Shoulders commercial," Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com wrote in a recent reveal regarding the pair's special relationship.
"The thing I remember clearly is how quiet that gym got," Cleveland head coach Larry Drew recalled. "Practice is going. There's all the talk, all the chatter and then that happened and it was just total silence."
"Man, Cedi saw his life - and his career - flash before his eyes," Channing Frye said with a laugh. "He was about to be on the first flight back to Istanbul."
Strangely, though, things worked out the other way around for the frightened foreigner, with James taking a liking to him after realizing how aggressively his new teammate played.
"That was the time when I felt I started earning that respect," Osman said. "That's what he liked to see, that I'm fighting hard, that I'm working hard."
James and Osman have since become close friends and that was made quite apparent when James hit a buzzer-beater against the Timberwolves last February. The star rushed to Osman, who jumped for a chest bump, sharing a moment that could have prompted the belief that the teammates had known each other for years.
The players developed a bond beyond the court, so much so, James asked his former teammate if he would want to join him for an exclusive summer workout with himself and some of the league's best.
"What do you expect me to say? I said, 'Of course, you know, that would be perfect,'" Osman declared. "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 the 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."
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Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best. And there are remarkably rare ones, who just bring out the most of everything that even you don't know that you have. They build you up. They make you feel alive. They make you feel strong. They make you feel indisputable. From the first moment we met, you’ve always been that rare one for me, King. I don’t believe in coincidences. I choose to believe my path crossed with you for a reason. And that reason will be uncovered as I continue to walk through. Please accept my highest gratitude for your support and appreciation for your inspiration. I’m truly blessed to have been surrounded by your charm. Bazı insanlar doğanızdaki kötü tarafları ortaya çıkarır; bazıları ise içinizdeki iyiyi katlayarak yansıtmanızı sağlar. Ama bazı özel insanlar vardır ki, onların sayısı çok azdır, sahip olduğunuzun farkında bile olmadığınız yönlerinizi parlatmanızı sağlar. Sizi geliştirir, yaşadığınızı hissettirir ve güçlü olduğunuzu hatırlatır. Kral, ilk buluşmamızdan itibaren benim için eşsiz biri oldun. Biliyorum ve inaniyorum ki seninle yolumuz özel bir nedenle kesişti. Bu özel neden, hayatım boyunca benimle olmaya devam edecek. Verdiğin tüm destek için sana kalpten teşekkür ediyorum. Seninle geçirdiğim her dakika için minnetarım. Yolun açık olsun...
LeBron exchanges text messages with Osman regularly and claims that their relationship has gotten even stronger since his switch to the West Coast.
"My relationship has grown even stronger with Cedi even though I've been on another coast," he said. "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.'"
Pressed for an answer on what drew him so close to the Turkish forward, LeBron replied: "By showing up on time, every single day. Putting in the work every single day. And being a professional every single day. Cedi is one of my favorite guys that I've played with and it was only a year, but he's a sponge and you can see that he has a love of the game."
What This Means
James gets along very well with pretty much everyone he's played with but the superstar doesn't extend invitations for summer workouts to anyone.
That Cedi was asked to tag along shows how close the players have become and LeBron's influence on the 23-year-old should be somewhat helpful to the Cavs.
James has very few notable friends in the NBA; so having come from Turkey and only playing with the four-time MVP for a year, Osman knows he's doing something right.