What LeBron James did in All-Star Game just doesn’t matter

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Not to go all Bill Murray in “Meatballs,” but:

It just doesn’t matter.

What LeBron James did at the end of regulation in the All-Star Game — deciding to try and make a pass with 1.9 seconds left rather than make the aggressive play and take a shot over Kobe Bryant (who was yelling at him to take it) — just doesn’t matter.

LeBron has been getting killed Monday by detractors for not taking that shot, for not seizing the moment. They see it as a sign of his passivity in clutch moments that goes back to time immemorial.

Of course, if LeBron had taken that shot and made it, those same people all would be saying, “it’s the All-Star Game, it doesn’t count, it’s an exhibition game not a real clutch moment.”

Which is true. That brings us to the real heart of the matter with LeBron — it just doesn’t matter what he does all through the regular season. All that matters is what he does in the playoffs — and the finals in particular.

LeBron is the clear frontrunner for the MVP right now. Sorry Kevin Durant fans, your man is certainly have a good season, but it’s not close. LeBron is putting up 27.4 points per game on 54.7 percent shooting, plus 8.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. His game has matured — he is taking fewer threes and getting better shots in the post. He’s defending well. He has a Jordan-at-his-peak PER of 32.4. He has been amazing.

He can win the MVP, and it just doesn’t matter.

Only what he and the Heat do in the playoffs will matter.

Only LeBron James earning a ring will matter — and if he doesn’t play a big role in the finals even that will not silence some critics. People have decided LeBron James is not clutch. (Those people should ask Derrick Rose, who LeBron shut down on defense and completely outplayed in fourth quarters of the Eastern Conference finals about that.) It just doesn’t matter.

Right now, LeBron’s legacy has been defined as the guy who could not get it done — he didn’t win a ring in Cleveland, he left for Miami to play with better players and they lost in the finals. Fair or not, that is how the sporting public at large has defined him.

The only way he changes that legacy is to get rings. Multiple. Because of him.

So while some talk about a pass at the end of the All-Star Game and see it as confirmation of the status quo, it just doesn’t matter.

Only the games in May and June are what matter for him.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.