It actually is fun (and once in a while, enlightening) to either attend press conferences or watch them on TV. Asking athletes to crystallize their thoughts on a game that just ended less than an hour before rarely lends itself to significant insight, but these things are still a deserving watch.
Especially when you get to see writers and columnists try to nudge players into writing their stories for them. And especially when the players nudge back, as LeBron James did Sunday night against CBS scribe Gregg Doyel after Doyel asked him if he was "shrinking" from taking games over in the fourth quarter.
Watch LBJ's response:
It's pretty daft, and while we've had issue with about four out of every five things that has left LeBron's mouth over the past year or so, this was a needed and actually enlightening response.
Perhaps now national columnists who only moonlight as NBA analysts during the Finals will pay less attention to the box score and more attention to the staggered screens set up to free Dwyane Wade throughout the three fourth quarters in this series, and James' role as a facilitator in the side-to-side offense Erik Spoelstra has been trying to develop since October. That's often a hard thing to do for columnists who are asked to touch on several sports or collections of teams over the course of the year, rather than focusing on one league.
Wade has the better matchup in this series, and as a result the ball has gone to him down the stretch of games. Against Chicago in the Eastern Conference finals, James had a better matchup against a dead-tired Luol Deng, and he took over down the stretch consistently. It's a fluid game, which doesn't really bode well for storyline revisionism.
Also, yes, James has been absolutely dominant defensively down the stretch of these Finals. He made some terrible decisions with the ball late in Game 2, but so did the rest of the Heat as they reacted poorly to Dallas' newly established trapping of Wade as he came to the ball on the elbow extended. Again, boring stuff, but that's often where the heart of the game is. To say that James has contributed "not much" is just flat-out wrong, because offense is just half the game.
Doyel is known as a bit of a huffy, pugnacious sort, so there's no doubt that he'll have pointed words for whatever scribe that deigns to write about this, along with James. But, as it is with athletes who often speak thoughtlessly from the podium following these games, there's no shame in getting something wrong without the benefit of game tape to go over.
There is shame in not learning from it. Hopefully Doyel takes the right approach from here on out.
UPDATE: He didn't.
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- LeBron James
- Gregg Doyel
- Dwyane Wade