This morning, Stephen A. Smith casually mentioned how LeBron James’ struggles in game four were attributed to “personal” issues, but he wouldn’t elaborate. I found this highly offensive, and let him know about it via twitter. Once Smith let loose with that garbage – planted by LeBron’s people as an excuse for terrible play in the 4th quarter of the Finals? – you just knew some lame rumor was going to pop up, the same way one did last year during the Boston series when LeBron soiled himself in an embarrassing home loss (it was later debunked). It happened (sorry, I’m not linking that trash). Nobody believes it, but millions of yahoos spent the day joking about it on twitter.
How irresponsible of Stephen A. Smith – “I hear, I don’t know for sure … you hear through the grapevine other things are going on.” I haven’t heard one other reporter mention a personal issue bothering LeBron. I hope when a reporter asks LeBron about it tonight, they make sure to mention that Stephen A. Smith started it.
Dirk, great player! By Howard Bryant
Nowitzki’s legacy, which will change because he’s still active, is nevertheless secure as a great player. Charles Barkley never won a title. Julius Erving won one, lost in the Finals three times, and blew a 3-1 lead to the Celtics in ’81, yet he is an unassailable, great player.
Nor should we forget that in Larry Bird’s first four years, his Celtics were dusted in five by Philadelphia in 1980, lost to the Sixers in seven in 1982 despite having home court and winning Game 1 by 40 — yes, 40 points — and were swept in the second round despite having home court in 1983 by Milwaukee. Only in 1981 did Bird come through, winning a title but only after the 76ers blew a 3-1 series lead in an epic Game 7. Superstars don’t always win, but they carry their teams beyond their capabilities.
But if you read the SI interview, you know use of the word “legacy” is silly! Here’s more Dirk from Grantland.
LeBron? Plenty of LeBron to go around. I enjoyed this “Passive LeBron” story from Bill Reiter:
The fact is there’s just something off about LeBron.
It’s why I wrote all the way back in November that LeBron risked turning into a modern-day Wilt Chamberlain (epic talent who never lived up to his incredible skills) instead of the next Michael Jordan.
Wade stood behind his buddy and teammate afterward, but in his first answer Wednesday about trying to help LeBron was some telling insight: “I don’t have to allow anyone to do it. I mean, he’s going to do it. It sounds good to me.”
It sounds good to me?
What it sounds like to me is that Wade is as befuddled as a lot of other folks about what’s going on with his teammate.
Game five will define LeBron, writes Dave Hyde. No, it won’t. Sorry, Dave.
Dan LeBatard seems nervous when he writes that James and Wade don’t really blend that well.
In the name of team, this is what these great friends share more than anything: Taking turns. That’s not quite the way most champions share. Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Kobe and Tim Duncan and his Spurs shared inside-out, possession to possession, giving each other space. There’s only one great team that looks anything like Miami. And what Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen shared is the understanding that, when it mattered, Pippen would get the hell out of the way.
This is one of the reasons a team with this much talent has been doubted all season.
I’m going to take Miami tonight, 102-97. I think LeBron will explode for 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. I think he’ll finally show up in the 4th quarter. I think he might dominate to the point that somebody fouls him excessively hard and LeBron nearly takes that person out. I think that person will be DeShawn Stevenson.
[Stephen A. Smith vid via Sportsgrid]