After falling behind 2-1 to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won Games 4 and 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. The Cavs won Game 4, 86-84, on a buzzer-beater by LeBron James on Mother’s Day, and they won Game 5, 106-101, on Tuesday, breaking the 100-point mark for the second time this series.
So yeah, all is well on the Cleveland front.
Or is it? James hitting the buzzer-beater in Game 4 added to his legacy; calling out David Blatt after the game did not – at least not in a good way.
Should we have a problem with James pointing out that he overruled Blatt’s final play-call Sunday?
“I’m glad you phrased the question that way,” NBA TV analyst Jared Greenberg said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Because I work with former coaches, coaches that are currently still employed but now are out of the playoffs, guys that play basketball, Hall of Famers – and even before this happened, you heard about guys demanding certain things in huddles, overruling coaches or not even telling the coach. They just go out and kind of run their own thing out on the court. That’s not the problem. That’s common. If LeBron James doesn’t care about his public perception the way I think sometimes he leads us on to believe, then why was it important to let everybody know that he was the one who drew up this play?”
That’s a good question. Damon Amendolara believes there’s been an underlying discomfort between James and Blatt all season, that James doesn’t respect Blatt’s basketball credentials.
“It’s tough with these egos,” Greenberg said. “It’s not that often in our world that (a) player – or an employee, if you want to say it that way – makes more money than a coach. This is a saga that’s gone on for decades. It’s nothing new. But to make it relatable to everybody who’s listening out there, in a work environment, when there’s social situations, how many times has the new guy just tried to fit in?”
(Blatt is the new guy in this scenario.)
“He seems like maybe he’s a cool guy,” Greenberg said, “but he gets a little comfortable too quick and says things that maybe six months from now would be appropriate but at this point we’re all trying to feel each other out, so maybe chill out. I think David Blatt has tried to make everybody happy and forgetting that LeBron James (needs) to be treated differently. And LeBron, on the other hand, is going to be the cool kid in the class who’s going to say, ‘No, listen, it’s going to take time for you to become one of us. I’m not going to make this easy on you, and you need to know who I am and respect not only my ability on the court, but what my brand is off the court before we can go ahead and just give you the keys to the ship here and let you run the show without any say from anybody else.’”
But can the Cavaliers succeed with that kind of dynamic? Doesn’t that make it difficult to win a championship?
“Well, I don’t think they’re going to win a championship either way this year,” Greenberg said. “I think this offseason is going to be extremely interesting with Cleveland. What’s done if David Blatt leaves? Is it on his own accord? Does he just say, ‘Hey I can’t take this anymore?’ I don’t see that happening. But does LeBron or does David Griffin find ways to get him out? This is not completely new. It took a while for LeBron James to warm up to Erik Spoelstra. There’s even been situations and examples about LeBron James and Mike Brown. I think there’s just this certain thing about LeBron – and maybe we need to get a psychiatrist or somebody who studies social situations to really define this, but it seems like LeBron’s got this need all the time to let everybody know he’s in charge. Maybe it’s just some sort of insecurity.
“But it’s tough for us to understand the shoes LeBron is in,” Greenberg continued. “He is the greatest athlete in the world, he may go down as the greatest basketball player to ever play, he’s making unbelievable amounts of money, his popularity is amazing – he sees the world through a different set of glasses than you and I. And those glasses oftentimes don’t even have lenses in them, so that makes it even more interesting. But it’s different for him, and I think it’s hard for us to relate. And he probably says, ‘You guys can’t relate to what I’m going through, so I need to try and express it to you as best I can.’ Unfortunately, he doesn’t do it very well.”