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Did LeBron Quit on Cavs in the Playoffs?

Jul 9, 2010 – 9:20 AM
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Tom Ziller

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Dan Gilbert, owner of the jilted Cleveland Cavaliers, wasn't content to put leavin' LeBron James on blast via open letter Thursday night. Gilbert, who called LeBron narcissistic, cowardly and heartless in his letter, spoke to the Associated Press' Tom Withers about the matter of James changing jerseys. And it was not pretty.

Gilbert alleges LeBron "quit" on his team in Games 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the team's second-round series against the Celtics this past May. He also said James quit on the Cavs in Game 6 of the team's Eastern Conference finals series against Orlando in 2009. That game eliminated the Cavs from the playoffs.

LeBron's Game 5 performance against Boston was perhaps the most talked-about playoff game of the season. The Cavs were blown out on their home floor, with James appearing aloof and disinterested at time, and having shot only 3-14 from the floor. But few if any observers called LeBron out for his performance in the other three Boston games Gilbert brings up.

Essentially, Gilbert is arguing that all four of the Cavs' losses to the Celtics happened because LeBron quit on his teammates. To which I respond, "What?"

In Game 2, James tallied 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He went to the free throw line 15 times. He held his counterpart, Paul Pierce, to 14 points, driving the lane repeatedly to put Pierce and Boston center Kendrick Perkins in foul trouble. The Cavs still lost by 18 points, as LeBron's teammates combined to shoot 38 percent and the Celtics as a whole shot 51 percent.

In Game 4, LeBron had 22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and a block. He had 11 free throw attempts. Pierce again was ineffective, scoring just nine points. The Cavs lost by 10 in Boston, where the Celtics lost just one game the whole postseason. Cleveland's three-man backcourt rotation -- Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and Delonte West -- combined to shoot 6-of-23, 26 percent. Boston's backcourt shot a combined 23-of-49, or 47 percent.

In Game 6, the Cavs' series-clinching loss, during which Gilbert alleges James quit on the team, LeBron had a game-high 27 points, a game-high 19 rebounds, a team-high 10 assists, a team-high 3 steals, a block and a whopping nine turnovers. The post-game analysis was that LeBron tried to do too much.

The inexplicable nature of LeBron's Game 5 performance will never be forgotten by the city of Cleveland, which is unfortunate because of all the memorable good performances he gave Cavs fans over the years (like a certain Game 5 against Detroit in 2007).

It's even more unfortunate that Gilbert has chosen this path in order to get the people of northeastern Ohio on his side in this post-LeBron world. You can argue LeBron sullied the good memories from his Cavs career by opting to join the Heat. But Gilbert's PR campaign against James is doing just as much (if not more) damage to the relationship fans have with the seven most successful years in Cavaliers history. People have enough trouble coping with heartbreak without a listening to billionaire harpies wail about it in the background.
Filed under: Sports

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