October 11, 2010
I'm hardly Dr. Andrew Bogut, so I'm not going to tell you if LeBron James(notes) was crazy for thinking that his still-undiagnosed elbow problem was getting in the way of him dominating the Boston Celtics (as he's done many times in the past) last spring. James still put up fantastic stats against the C's as Boston handily did away with James' Cavaliers, but LeBron was far from the efficient model we'd seen several hundred times over as the Celtics moved along.
And as you'll recall, just about every time Boston did something splashy or James did something un-James-like, he made a point to show everyone watching ... "look, my elbow!"
But as distasteful as James' disappearance in the playoffs was last season, and while he still managed to put up massive statistics (while dominating the ball and turning it over quite a bit, it should be said), something was clearly different with the guy during the two rounds of the playoffs his team worked through.
"It was pretty bad. It was something we couldn't figure out exactly what it was. There was times where I couldn't fully extend my elbow, and that's my shooting arm. And I do a lot with my right hand [laughs] ... Close to the last week of the season it started hurting a little bit, and then it just got worse throughout the playoffs."
As with all things LeBron-y, this isn't a black-and-white case.
It looked like there was something wrong with him last spring, but he didn't have to make it so obvious.
He put up great stats, but unlike the great stats that helped his team win more games in the NBA than anyone else over the last two years, the numbers didn't really help his team in a meaningful way.
And while the injury may have had a huge impact on his team going out way too early in the playoffs, Cleveland still should have won last season.
Boston was -- and is -- a great team, but LeBron took the end of that series off. Despite his stats. At least when he went out in 2009, he went down driving. Going at Dwight Howard(notes). Probably ruing the fact that he, and not Ben Wallace(notes), should have been guarding Rashard Lewis(notes). Not last season. LeBron let it happen. This isn't to discredit the Celtics; they earned that win. But LeBron let things ... happen.
And because things aren't black and white, we don't know how much of a hook to give this guy, once discussion about that as-yet-undiagnosed elbow injury comes into play.
But that's LeBron for you. Keeping things nice and complicated for us.