When LeBron James came back to Cleveland, he brought the brightest spotlight in the NBA with him. Now every little thing that happens with the Cavaliers is news.
More than that, their struggles earlier in the season — and the reported friction with coach David Blatt, or Kevin Love not feeling comfortable — becomes fodder for talking heads across the land. It’s life in the fishbowl, and it comes with constant criticism.
Kyrie Irving says he’s been ready for all this.
Irving and LeBron are playing well off each other, and the Cavaliers are in as the second seed — and playoff favorites — in the East. Irving told Jeff Ziglett of the USA Today his past season in Cleveland prepped him for this one.
“I went through so much (expletive) last year. What happens externally doesn’t even faze me anymore. It’ll never faze me again ever in my career,” Irving said. “Once you stop giving a (expletive), and it’s all about basketball, everything will be good.”
He means “stop giving a (expletive)” in the good way — not letting what is going on off the court impact what is happening on it. It’s something that all the great players — Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, etc. — had to learn. For some, it’s been a harder lesson.
Irving’s numbers this season are comparable to his last couple, he didn’t see a dip dealing with the changes LeBron brings to a team. It’s a sign of that maturity.
Now we get to see that tested in the cauldron of the playoffs.
James Dolan has never had his finger on the pulse of Knicks fans.
Plus we have come to take the limited things he says publicly with a grain of salt.
With that we direct you to a Q&A Dolan did recently with the Hollywood Reporter on a variety of his business ventures (hat tip to the New York Post). Of course that included conversations about the Knicks — in the midst of the worst season in the franchise’s storied history — and Phil Jackson running the organization.
You’re paying Phil Jackson $12 million a year for five years. Still worth it?
You got to believe, baby! I believe, I believe!
Jackson has said he was assured by you that there wouldn’t be any interference. But at what point does the leash get tugged?
I don’t see it happening. Phil is a brilliant basketball guy, and he and Steve [Mills] are working together great.
You enjoy losing?
No, I enjoy being out of the limelight. I enjoy having two experts in there that I trust. I barely have to do a thing. It can stay like that for me forever. As long as we continue to make progress — and I’m sure we will. I believe!
Dolan also goes on to say he is not selling the team, and that the majority of Knicks fans understand this is a rebuild.
Knicks fans understand rebuilding well, they feel like they’ve been living it for a decade. They don’t question the need for it, only how it’s being done. And there are legit questions to be asked there (especially after we see how this summer goes).
Those Knicks fans also know James Dolan, and they fear he won’t stay out of the limelight long.
Gregg Popovich is the best.
Not only does he have his Spurs rolling as we enter the playoffs — nine straight wins, each by at least a dozen points — but he is having fun again.
Take this moment from Wednesday, when he stops to compare his beard to James Harden’s — and that cracks up the MVP candidate.
(Hat tip to James Herbert of Eye on Sports)