Now that the Conference Finals are upon us and there are just four teams left for both local and national media to cover, the amount of focus on each, along with everything that’s said will be magnified exponentially.
Our first case study of this postseason comes out of Miami, where reporters talked to Heat players after practice on Sunday.
It was the first time the media had access to Miami players since the Pacers eliminated the Knicks in Game 6 on Saturday. One of them misquoted something Frank Vogel had said following the victory about facing the Heat in the next round, and LeBron James ended up reacting to comments that were never actually made by the Pacers’ head coach.
Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida was there to sort the whole thing out:
Frank Vogel said after last night’s game, “They’re the next team that’s in our way and that’s how we’re approaching it.”
Reporter to LeBron: “Vogel was saying last night that you guys are just another team.’’
LeBron: “We’re not just another team. I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. It’s not true.’’
Another reporter asks what he said.
LeBron: “He said we’re just another team in their way. We’re not just another team. We’re a great team. We’re very confident. We’ll be ready for them. But if we’re just another team, you really don’t prepare for just another team. We’re not just another team. You got to be prepared for us.’’
A third reporter: “Did your ears perk up when your heard that (from Vogel).’’
LeBron: “Absolutely. I’ll be ready.’’
Obviously, there’s no blame to be placed on James here, as he was simply responding to a question the way it was posed. And let’s not forget, great players like to use any perceived sleight against them as a source for motivation anyway, so whether the remarks were ultimately true or not, James might be just as happy to pounce on them in any form in order to increase his level of excitement for the upcoming series.
But let’s not pretend that there’s now some great controversy to chew over in the days leading up to Wednesday’s Game 1 between these two teams. Vogel is smart enough not to give the Heat anything to put on their bulletin board before the Conference Finals begin, and despite LeBron’s juicy reaction, it’s important to note what was actually said in the first place.