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LeBron’s out of context quote of the day: “At the end of the day it’s still just basketball”

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HOT TAKE TIME: LeBron James just does not care the way Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant did. That’s why he’ll never be as great as them.

If that first paragraph sums up your feelings, you best just move along. We’re going to go for context here. And maybe a little nuance. Those things may frighten you, these shade of gray rather than a world of black and white. You’re better off sticking to most sports talk radio (or some nationally televised sports debate shows).

LeBron James is a well-rounded person with a family — he married his high school girlfriend — and children that are his priority. He’s built a brand and a business empire around himself , coming from the home of a single parent, and finding smart friends along the way he could trust to be his partners. He’s the first NBA superstar of the social media age, and with that has come plenty of criticism his predecessors in that spotlight never did.

All that leads to this question and answer from LeBron speaking to the media in Cleveland Tuesday.

Q. You’ve always said that throughout your career things never came easy, you always had to go the hard route, hard path. With this situation right here that you’re in, do you feel like this is not comfortable territory but territory that you’re accustomed to?

LEBRON JAMES: Yeah, it’s something I am accustomed to. It’s something that I feel like is — that it’s okay for me to kind of always go back and know that I can refocus. I can get my guys ready, get myself ready. But you hate to continue to put yourself in these positions, but at the end of the day it’s still just basketball, man, and that’s what gives me comfortable and I’m more comfortable about it because it’s just a game. I prepare myself, I’m going to go out and do my job and live with the results.

Of course, the line that will get pulled out of that and discussed until tip-off on Wednesday is “at the end of the day it’s still just basketball, man, and that’s what gives me comfortable and I’m more comfortable about it because it’s just a game.”

The hot take cannon will be firing shots all over the web and on radio waves about how LeBron just doesn’t love the game like Jordan.  That is just flat-out BS. On several counts.

First, this is LeBron’s seventh straight Finals — he has been here before. He knows what has to be done. Some people will blast a lack of “not in my house” defiance from him, but that’s just simplistic. LeBron was literally in this spot with almost this exact same team one year ago (and they won Game 3 by 30), he knows the task at hand and a bunch of bravado is not the answer. Also, he said this in answer to a previous question, but it doesn’t make the same hot take:

“We got to protect home. It starts with tomorrow. One game at a time, one possession at a time, and cleaning up on some of the miscues that we have had in the first couple games and not have as many.”

Second, Jordan loved the game so much he partied in casinos and smoked cigars the nights before games. Can you imagine the images of Jordan that would have come out in an era of camera phones? Jordan is the GOAT (or you can at least argue that case very well), but we have mythologized him and his competitive obsession in a way that is not healthy. Same with Kobe. The emotional attachment of people to defend Jordan as the GOAT even when it’s not required always amuses me.

Third, LeBron is right. It’s a game. It’s entertainment. He was being honest, not waiving a white flag. He has unquestionably given his all this series, he’s done what he can to lift his team up. He’s incredibly competitive and if (when) they lose this series, he will rededicate himself to getting another ring next year no matter who stands in the way. But this is not the most important thing in the world by a long shot, and it’s not the most important thing in his life (he’s got people painting racial epithets on the gates of his home). Nor should it be. If it’s the most important thing in yours, maybe it’s time for some real self-evaluation.

Larry Nance Jr., Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier exchange shoves after whistle (video)

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Marcus Morris fouled Larry Nance Jr. in Celtics-Cavaliers Game 5 tonight. Nance didn’t like that, got up and shoved Morris. Morris and Terry Rozier didn’t like that, and both shoved Morris.

All three received a technical foul, which seems fair.

Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala questionable for Game 5

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Andre Iguodala missed the Warriors’ Game 4 loss to the Rockets with a leg injury.

It’s not certain he – or Klay Thompson, who played through a knee injury suffered in Game 4 – will be available for Game 5 tomorrow.

NBC Sports Bay Area:

Klay Thompson, who suffered a left knee strain during the first half of Game 4, is listed as questionable, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Iguodala missed Game 4 with a left lateral leg contusion and is questionable for Game 5.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Iguodala:

He’s feeling a little better today, and he’s out on the floor. Not doing a whole lot, but making progress.

Kerr on Thompson:

Klay is moving around really well. I think Klay is going to be fine.

That sounds better than “questionable” for Thompson.

The Warriors need one, maybe both, of those two on the court. Golden State’s depth, especially on the wing, is looking shaky.

In Game 4, Golden State outscored Houston by 20 in the 31 minutes Stephen Curry, Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green played together. In the in the 17 minutes they played without even one of those stars, the Warriors got outscored by 23. Nick Young, who received more playing time when Thompson left the court area due to his injury, looked particularly overwhelmed.

James Harden‘s defense is a huge bellwether in this series. The Warriors spend a lot of focus trying to exploit him, and if that fails, the shot clock gets low before they move into another action. If Thompson is even just slowed, that’d make it easier for Harden to keep up.

Milwaukee releases video of police tasing and arresting Bucks guard Sterling Brown

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Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased and arrestedbut not charged – over a parking violation in January.

As promised, Milwaukee released video of the incident.

Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Brown:

Bucks statement:

The abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of Milwaukee Police was shameful and inexcusable. Sterling has our full support as he shares his story and takes action to provide accountability.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. It shouldn’t require an incident involving a professional athlete to draw attention to the fact that vulnerable people in our communities have experienced similar, and even worse, treatment.

We are grateful for the service of many good police officers that courageously protect us, our fans and our city, but racial biases and abuses of power must not be ignored.

There needs to be more accountability.

The Milwaukee Police Department and local officials have acknowledged the challenges they are working to address, and we urge them to enact higher standards and more direct accountability. We all want to be able to trust each and every officer serving to protect us.

Incidents like this remind us of the injustices that persist.  As an organization, we will support Sterling and build on our work with local leaders and organizations to foster safe neighborhoods and better our community.

The video isn’t jarring due to its unfortunate familiarity – particularly compared to the many videos we’ve seen of police brutality around the nation. The scene is far too familiar. Police escalate a situation and enact violence upon someone they encounter, disproportionately minorities.

The most shocking element of this incident is the response – how the police chief acknowledges his offers acted inappropriately and how STRONGLY the Bucks stand behind Brown. That is one sharply worded statement from the team.

Hopefully, this sparks change.

Joel Embiid: Aron Baynes (‘Man bun’) ‘in NBA just to get dunked on’

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During the second round of the NBA playoffs, Heat guard Goran Dragic slighted 76ers rookie Ben Simmons. That came after Philadelphia eliminated Miami in the first round.

The procession of disses continues with 76ers center Joel Embiid mocking Celtics center Aron Baynes during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday. Boston, of course, eliminated Philadelphia in the previous round.

Embiid:

Baynes has gotten dunked on a lot this year – including by Embiid in the playoffs. The two also got into it during their second-round series.

But Baynes has the big edge: He’s still playing.

Though Embiid would like to be in the playoffs, that’s not his only goal. He also wants attention. So, mission accomplished, I guess.