Charlotte, N.C. -- Was it me or was the most aggressive thing LeBron James did last night was play dead? Did you see that flop in the fourth quarter? I mean European soccer players -- aka Manu Ginobili -- would've been proud. Except they would've waited for a stretcher to haul them off the court before popping back up to get maximum value.
So while chasing a loose ball, 6-foot-8 250 pound LeBron banged into the hip -- the hip! -- of 5-10, 170-pound Brevin Knight. He crumpled to the floor like he'd encountered a raging bull. He stayed there for awhile motionless. When he finally got up, he failed to fake a limp or obviously hold a body part.
I'm not calloused here, I'd never seen LeBron act that way and I figured he was indeed injured and was concerned on many different levels. Yet when I saw the replay I was convinced nothing really had happened. Then after the game when he was asked what he hurt and he said "I don't know, my head hurts a little, so I must've hit that." Well, actually, no, you didn't hit your head. In other words, he needed to come up with a better story.
OK, really I have no problem with LeBron using a little gamesmanship to try to get an edge. But on this night, when he played as if he'd rather been practicing dives in his pool, it really rubbed me the wrong way.
On Friday, LeBron was the consummate leader in the Cavs big win. He played at the top of his game while on the floor. When he was on the bench he was leading, encouraging his teammates and they were responding. As the fourth quarter started and the Cavs were up by six points and he was sitting down for a rest, LeBron emphatically told the players heading out to the floor to hold the Spurs down. They responded with a 7-0 run with him getting an important breather. In many respects, it was one of the most impressive nights I've ever seen out of LeBron. That play and attitude is the reason I feel he'll be the league's Most Valuable Player.
Then on Saturday he let himself be outplayed for the first 47 minutes by Adam Morrison. It's one thing to have an off night or to be a little tired. He's going to shoot 3-of-13 every now and then. That is understandable and acceptable, even for him. In fact, a bunch of Cavs acted played lazy and without any regard for the Bobcats, which is why they got beat even on a night when Charlotte was far from the top of its game.
But for LeBron stand around and play passively while his team languished around him, that doesn't seem like the standard he has worked hard to build for himself.
Look, every team has bad losses, especially on the road. I was convinced the Bobcats were going to beat the Cavs at some point this year. In fact, moments after leaving the AT&T Center in San Antonio Friday night I was thinking Saturday was a prime letdown situation, especially considering the travel difficulties. Flying commercial, I wasn't able to get to Charlotte until 2:30 p.m. Saturday, which disrupted my routine. The Cavs got in at 4 a.m., which surely messed up theirs.
But to see the way the Cavs and LeBron let it go down just showed they are not yet a true elite team and that even LeBron, for all his greatness, still has a long way to go.
I knew I'd be writing a blog this Sunday morning about how the Cavs fared in the season's first weekend. I thought I'd be writing about a 1-1 road trip, which I am. But after watching that game Friday, I can't believe I'd be wondering about the Cavs' drive today.
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