The Cleveland Cavaliers allowed Lebron James to sit out of a game against the Toronto Raptors last night. In fact, Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall sat out as well. The Cavs used a starting lineup of Damon Jones, Eric Snow, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. And if that fivesome doesn't make your nipples hard, I don't know what will.

Now, this would have been bad enough if it had happened in an NBA city, where the fans have a chance to see NBA action 41 other times (excluding the playoffs). But it didn't. It happened in Rochester, New York. It was, in fact, the first game played in Rochester since 1981. And 25 years is a long time to wait for a screw job. It's the basketball equivalent of cancelling Christmas by brutally murdering Santa Claus in front of the kids, then letting them celebrate Arbor Day instead. Unless Rochester is filled with hoards of crazed Sasha Pavlovic fans. And I'm guessing it's not.

The game was heavily promoted, with Lebron being the promotiest promotion on the card. The Blue Cross Arena was packed. But it was announced prior to the game that, while Lebron was in attendence, he wouldn't be playing. Naturally, the reporters mobbed him for a reason why. To which King James responded thusly:
"I got to focus on my health right now and how I feel. I can't worry about if guys are looking forward to seeing me play or anything like that. I'm sorry for the fans here, but I've got to do what's best for my team and my teammates."
Jesus, Lebron. I'm a fan and all, but that's easily the pussiest statement you've ever made. In fact, you should probably check your jock strap to make sure your genitals are still attached. Do you really expect people to believe that you aren't healthy enough to play five to six half-hearted minutes of basketball? Because, seriously, that's all the fans expected. That's all it would have taken to avoid the 20,000 stories about what a dick you are for not playing. And, frankly, you -- and every other NBA player who isn't really injured -- do owe it to the fans. And the whole "I've got to do what's best for my team" excuse is the purest form of distilled bullshit.

But that's the NBA today. Back in the fall of 1983, a brawl erupted during a preseason game between the Boston Celtics and the Philidelphia 76ers. Things got so heated that Red Auerbach marched out of the stands and confronted Moses Malone. Sixers coach Billy Cunningham was so infuriated that he ripped his own sports coat in half. Oh, and all the starters actually, you know, started the game.

What really galls me about this isn't even that Lebron didn't play. It's the fact that he lied about being why he didn't play. He couldn't just be honest and say, "The preseason is meaningless. I don't feel like playing. I'm too important to risk my body on a contest that no one will remember five minutes from now. And I can pretty much do whatever I want, so bite it." Because that's the truth of it.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yeah, LeBron went up about 15 douche points with that one. Bait and switch, bait and switch; LEBRON'S IN TOWN!!! LOOK, COME SEE LEBRON PLAY!!!
Or not.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Look, I'm a Cavs fan, so I'm obviously biased, but this decision wasn't exactly in LeBron's hands. He's been among the league leaders in minutes since his rookie season, he had a decent playoff run and he just played in the worlds. Coach Mike Brown and Danny Ferry have been resting LeBron (and Varejao) out of some practices and games.

This was the second night of a back to back preseason game. I agree, he made some lame comments and he probably shouldn't have taunted the fans by getting up and sitting down. But Jesus Christ, this is a preseason game. Hell, Shaq takes off half of the regular season.

I can understand why the fans would be mad, some of these guys paid 150 bucks for this game and they didn't even get to see LeBron (of course, they didn't see Chris Bosh either, but no one cares).

Of course, if I paid $150 for a preseason game, I'd kick my own ass.

(however, big props to the father who let his kid hold the 'lebron ruined my childhood' poster. classy)