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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dominant Howard Ends Cleveland's Dream Season, Lifts Orlando into the NBA Finals

Dwight Howard had the best game of his young playoff career and as a result his Orlando Magic defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-90, winning the Eastern Conference Finals four games to two. Howard scored a playoff career-high 40 points, shooting 14-21 from the field and 12-16 from the free throw line, and he also had a game-high 14 rebounds. Howard even dished off for four assists and although he only had one blocked shot he stayed out of foul trouble while still being a major defensive presence in the paint. The Magic shot 12-29 (.414) from three point range, with Rashard Lewis (18 points, 3-7 shooting from three point range), Mickael Pietrus (14 points, 4-7 shooting from three point range), Rafer Alston (13 points, 3-7 shooting from three point range) and Hedo Turkoglu (10 points, 2-6 shooting from three point range) leading the long range barrage. This was truly a case of the Cavs suffering from the worst of both worlds, because they neither contained Howard nor did they corral the Magic's many marksmen. As TNT's Kenny Smith said after the game, the Cavs were frequently caught in "no man's land" defensively, not really doubling Howard aggressively but straying too far away from the perimeter players to contest their shots.

LeBron James posted his worst performance of the series, "worst" being a relative term because 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while shooting 8-20 from the field would be a very good game for just about anyone else--but James averaged 38.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 8.0 apg in this series, so his game six numbers are indeed subpar by his lofty standards. James just did not seem to have his usual explosiveness, often settling for jump shots (he shot 2-8 from three point range). Delonte West added a playoff career-high 22 points on 9-19 field goal shooting, battling for 46 minutes despite the painful hip pointer that he suffered in game five. Mo Williams finished with 17 points on 6-12 field goal shooting but those numbers are very deceptive because he only had three points on 1-5 shooting in the first half as the Cavs fell behind 58-40. Anderson Varejao got into early foul trouble but still contributed 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds. No other Cav scored more than four points.

Since Orlando won 4-2 and cruised to victory in game six, revisionist history will ignore what actually took place in those six games and instead emphasize the popular pre-series topic of the numerous matchup problems that the Magic posed for the Cavaliers. There is no denying that the Magic present some challenging matchups but that is true of any team that advances this far in the NBA playoffs. Howard obviously had a decisive impact in game six and during the series he averaged 25.8 ppg and 13.0 rpg while shooting .651 from the field. Rashard Lewis exceeded his regular season scoring average and field goal percentage in addition to hitting two clutch three pointers, the first of which won game one and the second of which helped to force overtime in game four, enabling the Magic to eventually take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Hedo Turkoglu did not put up jaw dropping shooting numbers in this series but he used his playmaking skills to find open shooters as the Cavs scrambled defensively on the perimeter. Still, one glance at James' numbers in this series shows pretty clearly that he represened the single biggest "matchup problem" for either team; if Cleveland's other players had just performed slightly below their normal levels--as opposed to significantly worse than they played in the regular season--then the Cavs would have won this series despite the efforts of Howard, Lewis and Turkoglu.

Game six was a disaster for Cleveland but that should not obscure the truth that this was a tightly contested series featuring three games that were decided with the ball in the air as the final buzzer sounded--and that simply would not have been the case if Orlando really enjoyed decisive matchup advantages, nor would the Cavs have been able to build double digit leads in several games if they were as thoroughly outmatched as some people suggest: take away the two Lewis three pointers referenced above and the Cavs could have won this series in five games. I don't mean to suggest that the "wrong" team won, nor am I trying to justify my incorrect prediction that Cleveland would defeat Orlando. Rather, I am simply pointing out that the sky is not falling in Cleveland and that it is wrong to declare that the Cavs are a one man team, something that has become fashionable to say in the past week or so. The Cavaliers posted the best regular season record in the NBA in 2008-09 (66-16), leading the league in defensive points per game (91.4) and scoring differential (8.9) while tying the Celtics for first in defensive field goal percentage (.431) and ranking third in rebounding differential (3.3)--and you cannot accomplish those things without having a deep, talented team.

The story of the Eastern Conference Finals, from Cleveland's perspective, is twofold: (1) several players who performed at a high level during the regular season and in the first two rounds of the playoffs did not play well versus Orlando; (2) the Cavs regularly built big early leads only to squander them quickly and then execute poorly down the stretch once the score became close and either team had the opportunity to win. During the offseason, the Cavs' brain trust must figure out why so many players simultaneously regressed during this series and why a team that typically executed very well during the season repeatedly executed very poorly in critical late game situations. To put it bluntly, anyone who is either calling for Coach Mike Brown's head or suggesting that James' entire supporting cast must be replaced is an idiot: Brown's strategies have transformed the Cavs into one of the league's best defensive teams and have already resulted in one NBA Finals appearance and two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in four years. Brown has won at least 50 regular season games in three of those seasons and his career playoff record of 36-24 is outstanding.

LeBron James did not shake hands with the Magic players after the game, which obviously is a departure from normal protocol; Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys Pistons are still remembered--and not fondly--for snubbing the Chicago Bulls in a similar fashion after losing to the Bulls in the 1991 playoffs and Thomas later said that what he did was wrong and he told his son not to follow that example. It will be interesting to see if James eventually apologizes for this and it will also be interesting to see what kind of spin the national media puts on James' actions.

James compounded his hasty departure from the court by leaving the arena without speaking to the media. James has not made many missteps in his public life but that is a low rent move out of the Brett Favre-Kevin Garnett school: those are guys who are glad to speak with the media when things are going well or when getting their message out to the public suits their purposes but when things are going rough or their team loses then they are nowhere to be found; that is not an example that James should seek to emulate. James' former teammate Eric Snow, currently a commentator on NBA TV, called James' disappearing act "unfortunate" and said that part of being a leader is doing the "hard things" such as swallowing your personal disappointment and speaking with the media after your team has been eliminated. Instead, James hid from the scrutiny, leaving it up to his teammates to take the heat not only for the loss but also to explain how James is feeling. Mo Williams did a good job of deflecting a question about James and instead speaking about the disappointment that all of the Cavs feel--but as the team leader it is James' responsibility to deliver that message in person in his own words. As NBA TV's Rick Kamla noted, Kobe Bryant--who obviously is one of the fiercest competitors in the world--faced the media right after the Lakers got blown out by 39 points in a game six elimination contest in last year's NBA Finals; James should have followed Bryant's lead in that regard. Also, Julius Erving suffered some heartbreaking losses before he won an NBA championship but the one thing he never lost was his class and dignity; he always congratulated his opponents and he always went well beyond the call of duty with the media.

The Magic flew under the radar for most of this season: first the defending champion Celtics stormed out of the gate by going 27-2, then the Lakers took center stage by sweeping their regular season engagements with the Celtics and the Cavs and down the stretch the Cavs moved to the forefront by claiming homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Magic cruised steadily along right behind those teams but were dismissed by most observers after All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury; Orlando responded by acquiring Rafer Alston from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Brian Cook. The Magic inserted Alston in the starting lineup and hardly missed a beat. The Rockets are of course well known for their heavy reliance on "advanced basketball statistics", so it is more than a little ironic that the Magic obtained from Houston the starting point guard in the NBA Finals while only giving up a little used journeyman forward.

There has been a lot of talk about the basketball statistics revolution, but Orlando Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams recently told me, "There is certainly nothing wrong with advanced science but I am still a firm believer in judging horseflesh, you know? Dollar Sign on the Muscle, the old baseball scouting book. You've got to line guys up, you've got to evaluate, you need tons of experience from doing it for many years. You have to go into the gym and you have to study the product. Given a choice of the modern way or the old fashioned way, David, I'll go with the old fashioned way." Williams said that the Magic do not rely on advanced basketball metrics when they make player evaluations. Indeed, I recall that after the Magic signed a $118 million dollar contract with Rashard Lewis many "stat gurus" said that this was a classic example of a team vastly overpaying a player. I also thought at that time that the Magic paid Lewis more than he is worth but--unlike the "stat gurus"--I understand how the NBA business actually works and I made the point that sometimes if you are trying to win you have to "overpay" to obtain the player you want to get; otherwise, you end up holding a pile of cash but not making your team any better. There are a finite number of players available at any given time and if even one other team is willing to "overpay" to get the guy who you want then you either have to "overpay" or else end up with nothing. The Magic were not able to obtain a traditional, muscle-bound, enforcer power forward to pair with Howard, so they decided to build their team in the mold of the 1995 Houston Rockets and surround their superstar big man with three point shooters plus a versatile swingman who can shoot, rebound, defend and be a playmaker (Houston had Clyde Drexler in that role, while the Magic have Hedo Turkoglu).

Howard is averaging nearly 16 rpg during the playoffs; no other Orlando player is averaging even 6 rpg and collectively the Magic have been outrebounded slightly by their opponents--but they more than make up for that by taking care of the ball, shooting an excellent percentage from three point range while attempting a large number of treys and feeding the ball into Howard, who is shooting better than .600 from the field in the postseason. The big difference between the Magic and other teams that have tried to win by playing at a fast tempo while shooting tons of threes is that the Magic play outstanding defense, anchored in the paint by Howard, the Defensive Player of the Year.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:03 AM


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At Sunday, May 31, 2009 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous yogi said...

I can't say I'm sorry to see the Cavs lose - LeBron was so full of it that he deserved to fall flat on his face. He seems to me the most contrived nba personality I have ever witnessed.

How classless of him to exit like a spoiled brat that got his finals snatched away.

Maybe he should win something before everybody anoints him as the next basketball Jesus?

Anyway, Orlando just played better. I think they were a tough matchup and overall a better team than the Cavs.

Surprisingly, they were much stronger mentally than the cavs. I was sure that would the Magic's Achilles heal but it was actually their strength. The Cavs proved to be much weaker than I thought.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 12:36:00 PM, Blogger FreeCashFlow said...

Both series featured teams that were closely matched. And it really is funny how history softens the truth and makes results look inevitable. Truly, there is not much difference between losing in six games and winning in seven. Obviously there is a huge difference in result, but in terms of performance, the difference is a rebound here, a made shot here. Which is not to say it's luck, indeed, the lesson should be to value each and every possession, because as Tex Winters said, "Everything turns on a trifle". Execute enough of those trifles, and you may come out a winner. I'm just opposed to all this nonsense that one team has to dominate the other. There are hotly contested games going on here, and we should be appreciative.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 2:43:00 PM, Anonymous The Peoples Program said...

Dominating effort by Dwight. He will be going into a different situation in the next series though, having to defend the most talented offensive center in the league. He'll have to be very disciplined not to get into foul trouble.

I really appreciate your hoops persepective. You've got a frequent visitor from November 1 through late June :)

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 5:40:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


LeBron is a great player who has improved several of his skill set weaknesses, so I think that your criticism of him is a little harsh.

That said, his conduct after the game six loss is inexcusable and his statement today that he does not see anything wrong with not shaking hands with Orlando's players is way off base.

The series was closer than people are portraying it to be but since Orlando won in six games there is no denying that Orlando proved to be the better team.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 5:41:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Free Cash Flow:

As you said, this was a tightly contested series that was very exciting to watch.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 5:42:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The Peoples Program:

Yes, Howard will have a tougher challenge defensively versus the Lakers because he will have to guard either Gasol or Bynum, both of whom will be tougher matchups than Z was.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 7:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who consider the Magic "under the radar" are not looking at the radar close enough. I do not have the numbers with me, but I'm pretty sure that the Magic had the best regular season head-to-heads against the top teams in the league.

I think Lewis is overpaid, because I do not recall any other suitor offering anything close to what the Magic gave him. They could have slashed a couple of million off his salary and got another banger to back up Howard. Is he getting more dough than Howard by the way?

The Cavs supporting cast, while talented, does remind me of the recent Suns. I don't think their record against the top teams were good, but they did consistently blow out bad teams. When scouted, analyzed, and prepared specifically for, they wilted.

I still think you give too much credit to their supporting cast. After LeBron, the next 3 best players are in Orlando.

While I did predict that the Cavs would win (mainly because they were really good at 3pt defense), the Magic victory is not surprising.


At Sunday, May 31, 2009 8:21:00 PM, Anonymous Jack B said...

What do you make of Kobe and Lebron's different approach to leadership? From what we were led to believe, i would expect Lebron to talk to his teammates after such a heartbreaking loss. You already know kobe is hard on his teammates and him not speaking to them after a such a loss would not be surprising.. But what Lebron did is kinda a 180 from what we were led to believe.

on Lebron:
Why is it when Kobe speaks from the heart, the Media kills him for being arrogant or overconfident. But hearing Lebron speaking in these post-game press conferences have been borderline narcissism. Why is it he gets a free pass and gets praise for being "real"?

no Pundits
I think they are wrong to blame Lebron's supporting cast. Orlando was just about the worst matchup possible for Cleveland. Its no secret they wanted Boston instead of Orlando. If Cleveland meets Boston instead of ORL,there's no question they advance to the finals. I think Cleveland would beat Boston even if they had KG. so for all the pundits who chose Cleveland over ORlando in 6 games max, looks stupid trying to come up with excuses now. They ignored the matchup problem Orlando created and went with the sexy pick.

On Mike Brown
His game to game adjutsments coupled with Orlando's matchup problems is what lost them this series. He never adjusted. But i dont think he should be fired though, it'd be a shame for antoher Coach of Year winner to fired again.

On Kobe
What does it say about him that he is the only MVP winner to have taken his team to the finals in the last 6 years?

On Cleveland Offseason Moves
Should the Lakers worry about the Cavs snatching Ariza or Odom from them? I think Boozer should sign with the Cavs. They'd be Lethal with him. Thats why i think one of the better destination for Boozer this offseason would be either Cleveland or Miami. I'd prefer Miami because it'd add more quality team in the East.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


lebron acted like a baby david after he lost he the best player in the league and all but that was classless they would of killed kobe if he did the same thing. howard is 3rd best player in league he is better than people think defensive player of the year averaging 20 and 16 in playoffs and shooting 60 percent 28 double doubles in 32 playoff games 5 20 20 games he is the truth only 23 years old bruh. people think he isnt a superstar like skip bayless he defintely is.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:24:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


My "under the radar" comment refers to the fact that for most of the season the Cavs, Celtics and Lakers (in various orders) had the top three records. The Magic may not have been that far behind but most of the time they were not in that top three. I doubt that too many people outside of their locker room considered them a serious championship contender until fairly recently.

I agree with the "stat gurus" that Lewis is overpaid--it would be hard to argue otherwise objectively--but my point is that the Magic had a choice of either overpaying to a degree but definitely improving their roster or holding on to that money even though they may not have been able to sign anyone else who could help them. They chose to add Lewis and find a way to maximize his strengths and hide his weaknesses. It is possible that they could have tried to pay him a little less in order to sign another player but the reality is that if they only saved a few million dollars that would not have bought them very much and if they slashed their deal too much then Lewis might not have wanted to move across the country to join their team. The Magic made the best choice given their options, even though the "stat gurus" will never understand that.

Lewis made nearly $4 million more than Howard this year--and nearly $11 million more than Turkoglu, the third highest paid player on the team! Obviously, Lewis is overpaid but he adds a vital dimension to their attack. The Magic would not have won the ECF without his contributions, including two huge three pointers in game one and game four.

The Cavs' supporting cast is obviously going to take a real beating in the media now but, as I noted in the post, you don't put up the w-l record and defensive stats that Cleveland did this season without having a talented team. What killed the Cavs is not so much the mismatches but that so many of their players shot poorly. The Cavs will have to decide why that happened and what to do about it moving forward. Could the Cavs upgrade their roster? Sure, every team could use an upgrade somewhere, but the truth is that the Cavs were a couple bounces away from winning the ECF and having homecourt advantage in the Finals.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:35:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jack B:

This whole situation with LeBron not shaking hands with the Magic and not talking to the media after the game is the first time that he has made a serious misstep publicly. It will be interesting to see how he deals with this and also what type of coverage this situation receives. If Kobe had done something similar you can rest assured that he would receive much more criticism than LeBron.

I don't know why there is a double standard regarding Kobe and LeBron. As you know, I apply the same standard to both players, so your question is more properly directed toward people who are biased in that regard; I can't speak for them.

Cleveland's supporting cast did not play well but the question is whether the Cavs should redo their whole roster after a series that they could have won if a couple breaks had gone differently or if they should keep this group together for at least one more run. Is it realistic to believe that you can tear down a 66 win team and improve it in one season?

Unless you are in the locker room, you don't know what adjustments Coach Brown made. After game six, he indicated that the team did not properly execute the game plan. So, maybe he made adjustments but the players did a poor job executing them. Also, there is nothing that Brown can do about players missing open shots and the Cavs missed a ton of open shots in this series that they converted during the season.

As for MVPs advancing to the Finals, one thing that the stat you cited says is that Nash should not have won two MVPs. He had a stacked team and still could not get to the Finals--one year Kobe almost took Nash down with Kwame and Smush as wingmen.

I doubt that Boozer would end up back in Cleveland after the way that he left the Cavs in the first place. I'm not sure what will happen with Ariza and Odom but I would expect the Lakers to try to retain the services of both players.

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:42:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Howard impressed me during this series, particularly in game six. I already considered him to be the best center in the NBA and a top five player overall but you are probably right that he is top three right now, supplanting Wade and Paul.

We all know that if Kobe had stormed off of the court and gone straight to the bus without shaking hands or talking to the media he would be pilloried from every direction. The bottom line reality is that a lot of people just don't like Kobe, period--and many of those people work in the media. All Kobe can do is win this championship now and get rid of the notion that he cannot win a ring without Shaq.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 2:36:00 PM, Anonymous Mike Smrek said...

Saying, “I was wrong, but could have been right if a few balls fell differently” misses an opportunity to figure out why Orlando played Cleveland even. Cleveland was an overwhelming (almost unanimous) choice to win this series. Sure, games could have gone either way, but the fact that Orlando was even close enough to win means that the prognosticators made a mistake and should examine what they got wrong instead of saying “I was almost right”.

My own view before the series was that Cleveland was overrated because they built up a gaudy season record and gaudy statistics by playing at a higher intensity than most NBA teams muster during the regular season. But at an individual talent level, Mo Williams, Delonte Varrejo just couldn’t compete with Boston, Orlando, Lakers, etc. My evidence was a review of their road record where they couldn’t muster a single win against the Lakers, Orlando or Boston.

Other than 1 position, Orlando had much superior talent at ever spot on the floor (maybe Mo Williams and Courtney Lee are even). Its difficult to win with that talent disparity. Even Jordan’s Bulls featured 1 Top 50 all time player and enough talent to take it one Hue Hollins call from the finals when he retired.

This was also the Lakers problem in the finals last year when they were inexplicably the favorites despite severe talent deficiencies at every position but 1. They played close in 5 of 6 games, so their media champions could say “well, it was close so I wasn’t really wrong”, but they were wrong.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 3:05:00 PM, Anonymous Mike Smrek said...

I like the point you made about "overpaying". Some stats guys pick an overall metric measure prior performance and assign a dollar value. And against that we all agree Rashard Lewis is overpaid, but contracts are awarded among a finite group of players (and a given year may be a buyer's or seller's market), plus teams face artificial constraints of the salary cap and its minor corollaries (Bird rule, mid level exception, rookie caps, potential “amnesty” cuts, etc). These strictures are material enough to make the stats guys objective $ numbers pointless even if true.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 3:24:00 PM, Anonymous J said...

I just saw this article providing the text from an email that LeBron apparently sent to Dwight Howard:


James said he sent an e-mail to Howard following Saturday’s game. “It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” he said. “I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”Really? Did James not shake hands after last year's Game 7 loss? After the Finals sweep to the Spurs? After losing to the Pistons in 2006? etc etc

His actions after the game were arrogant, childish, and immature, and this kind of ridiculous justification only further lowers my opinion of him. It had previously been fairly high, but this kind of petulant behavior and follow-up is very disappointing.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 6:32:00 PM, Anonymous st said...

here's a good article on magic's offense


At Monday, June 01, 2009 8:03:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Mike Smrek:

My point was not to "justify" my prediction but rather to suggest that if I were running the Cavs I'd think twice about completely overhauling a team that came so close to winning a title. I'm not saying that the Cavs should stand pat no matter what but change for change's sake could backfire in their faces.

The Cavs won 66 regular season games because they played outstanding defense, rebounded very well, had good depth and featured the best (or second best) player in the NBA. The Cavs have to try to figure out why the depth that worked so well for them during the regular season and first two playoff rounds came up short versus Orlando: several players performed significantly below their norms. Was this because of something Orlando did or did these players slump for some other reason? The answer is not clear but the people running the Cavs have to figure this out and draw the appropriate conclusions. This was Mo Williams' first appearance on the big stage in the NBA playoffs. Were his weaknesses exposed or will be perform better if given another chance?

As for the Lakers-Celtics, I picked the Lakers because I thought that the Celtics would have no answer for the Bryant-Gasol screen/roll play that shredded the defending champion Spurs and every other team in the West; I did not know that Gasol would act like the paint was surrounded by an electric fence and/or filled with Dobermans. I never believed that the Lakers had more depth than the Celtics, even though a lot of other people said that. I would say that Magic-Cavs was a much closer series than Celtics-Lakers.

At Monday, June 01, 2009 8:16:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Mike Smrek:

Dave Berri at WoW bases a substantial portion of his commentary on the assertion that NBA GMs do a poor job of properly assessing player values but Berri either does not understand or else deliberately ignores the real world working conditions for NBA GMs. The Lewis case is a perfect example of this. Berri can sit in his ivory tower and chide Orlando for this signing but the Magic did the best that they could to improve their team given the options that they had. This is not to suggest that GMs never make mistakes but they know a lot more about basketball than a guy like Berri ever will. I just wish the economists would fix the economy and leave basketball alone; then again, considering what the financial "experts" have already done to the economy, maybe we are better off if they spend their time pretending to be GMs as opposed to doing even more damage!

At Monday, June 01, 2009 8:18:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


That article does not quote from LeBron's text message. It mentions that he said that he sent a text message to Howard but the quote is what LeBron said to the media in response to a question about not shaking hands with the Magic players.

Obviously, LeBron is completely off base with this and one hopes that after some reflection he figures this out and addresses the matter again publicly.

At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:18:00 AM, Anonymous WTF said...

On LeBron:

the only reason its been in the news is because the media/blogosphere have to make a something of every little trivial event so that they have a topic to write about.

Larry Bird used to get mad at his own teammates for shaking hands all the time, but LeBron doesn't do it once and the pundits act like he killed someone.

Its laughable and pathetic at once, and its speaks to the state of sports media more than anything about LeBron James. To have TV/radio/web pundits get on a player for not shaking hands or talking to the media after a game is so utterly ridiculous that the only possible reasons for doing so is either a.) a personal dislike of LeBron and/or b) to write something negative towards LeBron in the hopes of gaining attention.

Of all the important issues one might analyze regarding the NBA or sports in general, these hacks talk about LeBron not shaking hands or not answering media questions. It a sad state of affairs for the sports media.

At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 4:39:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


What you are referring to regarding Larry Bird had to do with helping an opponent up or fraternizing with him while the game was taking place. Shaking hands after the game is over, particularly a series clinching game, is just basic decency and a sign of respect toward one's opponent--and failing to do so demonstrates that one lacks that basic decency and respect. I doubt that you will find one player or former player who will say that LeBron did the right thing in this regard. This is certainly not the media making something up. Moreover, I would say that the media has actually been fairly easy on LeBron; consider how much heat Isiah Thomas and the Pistons took for similar actions and just imagine what would be said if Kobe Bryant had done this.

As for not speaking to the media after the game, believe it or not that is actually a job requirement for LeBron James and the NBA can fine him for not doing so, much like your employer could discipline you for failing to do something that is required in your workplace. Interestingly, the NBA has decided not to fine LeBron this time because this is his first offense.

LeBron exercised poor judgment in this situation. It's not something that I intend to write about over and over but it had to be addressed; I mentioned it in my game recap but probably will not say more about it unless something else happens--but it would be irresponsible to simply ignore this.

At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 8:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He didn't shake hands because he was so competitive? So his teammates that did shake hands weren't competitive? He was frustrated so that excuses him from doing whatever the hell he wants? I feel sorry for Mo having to come up with excuses for LeBron's behavior.

If he had apologized, that would have been the end of it. Instead, he "sticks to his guns" and comes up with an excuse that gets dumber every time you hear it.

The Magic weren't even taunting them, or calling him overrated, or posing for ridiculous pictures before the game, or throwing chalk in the air...


At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 3:29:00 PM, Anonymous Joel said...


Are you serious? I can count on one hand the number of harshly critical articles I've seen about the incident. Most of the media has either swept it under the rug or tried to explain it away. In fact, when the AP first reported it the story referred to LeBron's 'non-supporting cast' as a means to rationalise his behaviour. To be honest, LeBron would pretty much have to burn a flag during the national anthem to get the kind of treatment you're insinuating.

Your statement reminds me of another commenter who claimed that Kobe was a 'media myth', as if Kobe of all people is someone who has always received favourable treatment from the mainstream media. LeBron, on the other hand...


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