clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Going over LeBron's comments with a fine tooth comb

I like to tease a good friend of mine from time to time about his undying love for the rock band U2. He’s convinced they’re the greatest band ever. I like the band myself but I don’t share his viewpoint (because it’s the Beatles, of course). I tell him they’re not even as good as Depeche Mode and my fake argument ends in the conclusion that he’s "wrong". It’s clearly a joke, he’s entitled to his own opinion. It doesn’t matter whether or not he’s biased or a little misguided in his viewpoint. It’s his right to believe that. Does LeBron have the right to his own opinions? With the Miami Heat cruising along to 20 victories in a row to teams not named the Dallas Mavericks, there hasn’t been much in the way of criticism towards the team to conjure up like the good old days before the season had even started or when they stumbled towards an underwhelming 9-8 record through their first month of playing together. There wouldn’t much of a use for the media if it wasn’t our job to process and analyze what we see on and off the court. But mini-controversies over every little thing that LeBron James is going to say through the course of a lengthy season seems a bit pointless. It’s not just the media, of course. The same holds true for those that were deeply offended by The Decision and its aftermath. Even still, I’d venture to say the vast majority of the general public have moved on from it. After all, someone is easily voting him into the All-Star game as a starter (and we all now know that Miami doesn’t have any Heat fans). The latest episode of "LeBron-gate" erupted last week when he gave his opinion that the league is "watered down". I dusted off my old basketball cards from that era and I came away with an unclear decision on the matter. No doubt there was some strong teams with several notable players but there was also more than a few teams with a lot of players I can’t believe made the league. It’s easy for LeBron to remember the league the way he thinks it was if you view the past through rose-colored glasses. ESPN Classic doesn’t exactly air a Clippers-Hornets game from 1989 featuring the likes of Kenny Gattison, J.R. Reid, Kelly Tripucka, Gary Grant and Danny Manning. Even the 1990 Rookie Team of David Robinson, Vlade Divac, Pooh Richardson, Sherman Douglas and Tim Hardaway is underwhelming. Adding more NBA teams and players to that version of the league sounds like a bad idea. At least to me it would seem that way. You might think otherwise. Yet, there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. Maybe, just maybe, the issue of contraction is a bit more complicated than simply being "right" or "wrong" about it. Maybe the league survives just fine either way. What followed later was a clumsy attempt to backtrack from his previous comments and claiming he wasn’t actually talking about contraction which only raised more ire aimed at him. LeBron would have been better off just sticking with his first comments and not backing down from them. Then some more criticism went his way over his benign response to Erik Spoelstra winning Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
I think it's great. For the month of December we played the best basketball of any team in the league and he had a lot to do with it. As players, we went out and executed.
Remember, this is over the Coach of the Month award. And yes, the players do execute what the coach plans out for them. That’s how it works. Phil Jackson didn’t suddenly become a bad coach from November to December. Is he the primary reason why the Lakers are suddenly struggling? Spoelstra could have the best plays in the world drawn up and gave them all motivational posters to hang in their lockers but he wasn’t going to win any awards if his team didn’t work hard for it. LeBron literally said Spoelstra had a lot do with it. Would anyone think twice about this comment if Erick Dampier had said it verbatim? I wouldn’t say I’m going to fight to the death for LeBron’s right to say what he wants or that he’s right about everything. But to focus like a laserbeam on his comments, body language or choice of deodorant for a chance to pounce on something he did or didn’t do to my liking seems to be a waste of an opportunity to write about the many aspects of this fascinating Heat season that are actually, well, real. We have the right to criticize or praise the Heat or its players when we see fit but I grow worried that continuously lambasting someone for speaking their mind will cause an unwanted negative effect, which would be perfectly reasonable at this point, of this person choosing to shut down and not be forthcoming to the media anymore. And that doesn’t do either the writer or the reader any good.