By Robert Arrowsmith
We saw it in the 1980s when Magic Johnson decided he didn’t want to play for Paul Westhead and before you knew it Pat Riley was the coach.
So yes, we have known for decades that the star player will get the treatment before a throw-away coach.
But LeBron James took it to a new level in these National Basketball Association finals.
And it is a shame, because the best player on the planet should not be behaving the way he did.
ESPN sideline reporters state he was calling timeouts and making substitutions on his own, openly yelling at the coach when he didn’t agree, conferring with assistant coaches away from the head coach, and on and on almost like a spoiled child.
One instance was reported that during Game 5 his gestures were so adamant about a play that the coach drew up, that David Blatt erased the dry erase board and drew up a different play.
I get the fact that LeBron knew he was going to have to do it himself in the finals. Without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love the Cavaliers were in trouble. In fact it was stated at one point during the finals that, in the announcer’s opinion, the next seven most talented players in the game after LeBron all played for Golden State.
What I do not get about all this is that if LeBron doesn’t like the coach, we all know he could walk right in to the owner’s office, and the coach would be done the next minute. The minute after that, Dan Gilbert would be on the phone doing what he could to hire the coach LeBron wants.
Is it because LeBron knows that if the team fails, it can fall back on the coach? Either way, how does anyone else on the team have respect for the coach when this is going on?
Because Blatt was hired before LeBron decided to move back home, he really had no input into who his coach would be.
But I go back to my original point. You don’t think if LeBron went to the owner and said, “I want a new coach,” he wouldn’t have a new coach?
I did watch a few Cleveland games this year, and it did seem like he paced himself from time to time; going through the motions on defense, not really hustling to get back, but I’m guessing that was in part to making sure he did not break down before the playoffs.
If there is one thing about basketball and hockey it is that you only have to do enough in the regular season to qualify for the playoffs; you only have to be good enough to get there, and then turn it on.
But I put more of the blame on that for a new system, new players, being home … many other things other than not liking the coach.
I could not have been more impressed with the fact that one person carried a team in the NBA finals as far as they did. And I do blame the coach for the fact that he could not take better advantage of the fact that when Golden State went small he didn’t have an answer.
Why didn’t Timofey Mozgov play more when he scored 28 the game before? I will always scratch my head on that one. But I’m sitting on my couch at home talking about another team. My opinion matters to virtually no one.
LeBron has millions watching his every move, and his handling of his coach was a poor representation of a true leader.
Robert Arrowsmith is publisher of Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: