The biggest X-factor in the NBA Finals, plus the LeBron fallout

06.01.09 8 years ago 114 Comments
LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that even after LeBron‘s team was eliminated from the championship race, Sunday’s headline NBA story still revolved around King James. In this case, it was LeBron’s actions immediately following Cleveland’s season-ending Game 6 loss the other night. As you’ve no doubt seen by now, as soon as the final buzzer sounded on Orlando’s blowout win, LeBron made a beeline for the locker room without acknowledging Dwight Howard or anyone else on the Magic. Then, after briefly talking to his teammates, LeBron skipped the mandatory post-game press conference. As you’d expect, the LeBron haters came out in full force crying “classless,” while the LBJ defenders wrote it off as their guy just being a competitor who was pissed off at the loss. Certified champs like Isiah Thomas and Bill Belichick have done the no-handshake (or the customized eff-you-handshake) before; what do you think of LeBron’s post-game show? … LeBron did talk on Sunday, saying he e-mailed Dwight his congrats, then added, “It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them. 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.” … Now, as far as the two teams that are still playing, the big news in Orlando is the possible/rumored return of Jameer Nelson for the Finals. Any team that gets its All-Star PG back for the biggest series of the season is in good shape, but what makes this so much bigger is that Jameer was the main guy responsible for torching L.A. in Orlando’s regular-season sweep. In the two Magic/Lakers games, Jameer averaged 27.5 points and 6.5 dimes. Obviously he’d be rusty and not in prime basketball shape, though, and then there’s the issue of playing time. Both Skip and Jameer will say all the right things to the press if in fact Jameer can play, but you know it’ll be an issue behind closed doors. The Magic have indicated they’d only need Jameer for 15 minutes a night, but what happens in crunch time of a close game: Will Stan Van Gundy lean towards his trusted incumbent, or in Rafer Alston, the guy who has QB’d his team to this point so far? … The Lakers’ biggest personnel issue begins and ends with Andrew Bynum. For a whole year all we’ve been hearing out of L.A. is how much more dangerous the Lakers are with Bynum on the court. And while that was true in the regular season, the kid has fallen off the map in the playoffs. His 7.8-point, 3.3-rebound, 1.3-block averages against Denver represented his best series this postseason. Clearly, Bynum’s defense — or at least his six fouls — will be useful against Dwight Howard, but with the way he’s been playing, he could end up basically being a tackling dummy. How much will Phil Jackson aim to play Bynum? And how long can he stay on the court and avoid foul trouble? … Mild drama from Lakers camp, as Shannon Brown is being sued over an alleged “sex-related incident” that (allegedly) took place in Denver earlier this season when Brown played for the Bobcats. Make your own Kobe jokes … Whether or not you believe anything Peter Vecsey writes in the New York Post is your own business, but it bears mentioning that Vecsey is reporting that Carlos Boozer thinks he’ll end up with the Pistons or Nets after he opts out of his deal this summer. Booz has had some rough patches in Utah, but anyone who can come back making $12.6 million with Deron Williams making them look better than they actually are might want to seriously think about staying put. How many times will Boozer watch Devin Harris or Rodney Stuckey go 1-on-5 before he starts rolling his eyes and thinking about the good ol’ days? … And apparently Nick Calathes just wants to get the hell out of Florida. The 6-6 sophomore point guard already declared early for the NBA Draft despite not being a first-round lock by any stretch, and now it looks like he’s going to play pro ball in Greece. Calathes’ family is Greek and he has dual citizenship. If you were in his position, which looks more attractive: About $1.1 million in Greece with a great possibility for lots of playing time, or about $800,000 to $900,000 as a late-first round pick in the NBA with (most likely) minimal PT at best? … We’re out like Calathes …

Around The Web