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Matt Shepard

Shep's Take: Pouncing For The Wrong Reason

 
Posted June 6th, 2014 @ 10:17am

Admit it. You don't LeBron James because he staged his exit from Cleveland on national television, and told the whole country before he told owner Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers. 

That's fine.

I'll admit I still hold some ill-will toward him for that, too. And I don't like the way the Miami Heat put together their club either. In my perfect little world, teams would still draft and nurture their core players like the great Lakers, Celtics, Pistons and even the Bulls did. But that's not today's NBA.

It's not that LeBron James is my favorite player. He's not. I'm rooting for the Spurs, but just because you didn't appreciate his tactics doesn't mean you can't recognize his greatness. And just because he cramped up in Game 1 of the NBA Finals sure doesn't diminish his modern-day legacy. 

Photo/Getty Images

It was just a week ago when people were praising him for breaking Michael Jordan's career playoff record for number of games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. 

Ask yourself this. In 1989, when Magic Johnson cramped up or pulled a hamstring against the Pistons, did you look at him as soft?

No, because he's Magic -- Mr. Happy-To-Be-Here-Playing-The-Game-I-Love -- Johnson.

We want everyone to be like Jack Youngblood, who played the entire 1979 playoffs and Super Bowl with a broken leg because, in his words, "as the captain of the team, I felt it was my responsibility." We want all our champions to be like Nick Lidstrom, who played games in the 2009 playoffs with a ruptured testicle, or like Isiah Thomas, whose gritty performance on a broken ankle in 1988 is legendary. 

Those are special players, and so is LeBron, even though he hasn't faced those odds.

It's not like LeBron hasn't played through pain before. Muscle cramps cripple an individual from moving, and because he is so lean, I would guess it makes him even more susceptible to that kind of injury. It sure isn't because he's "soft."

That's a fan or member of the media reaching because they don't like him in the first place.

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