Nowadays, when the Wizards talk, the ears of the media perk up, and the word on the street starts bubbling. Of course, we throw the entire Wizards team into the mix, but it’s really only two who are opening their mouths: DeShawn Stevenson and Gilbert Arenas. Their teammates are put in the position to back up their claims. Who knows what savvy vets such as Antonio Daniels and Antawn Jamison think of all the words. My gut feeling is that they don’t mind so much (and neither does Eddie Jordan). They’re competitors too and are just as ready to strap ‘em up and go to war on the court.
Gilbert Arena’s comments about wanting to play the Cavaliers should come as no surprise. Does he really have to say that he wants to face Cleveland in the playoffs? The move seems obvious. Anyone would want to get the monkey off their back, especially Gilbert’s heavy weight of missing two key FTs with 15 seconds left in game 6 of the 2006 playoffs. Do the history. Damon “Zirconia” Jones went on to hit a jumper in the corner with four seconds left. Game Cleveland, 114-113; Series Cavs, 4-2.
Oh yea, lest we forget, LeBron circled Arenas like a shark emitting some smack right before those free-throw attempts….the monkey on Gil’s back ain’t light, he’s Oliver Miller rotund. It is neither wrong nor detrimental for Arenas to speak for himself. Do people seriously think that LeBron wouldn’t bring his ‘A’ game if Gilbert had not spoken? If so, they are not giving James enough credit.
Nonetheless, the fodder between LeBron James and DeShawn Stevenson conveys the provocative nature of a scripted tiff between two hopelessly immature pawns on MTV’s The “Real” World. And yes, I stopped watching that terribly fake display of mankind almost 10 years ago.
But aside from singlehandedly taking care of the Pistons in last year’s playoffs, what has LeBron really done on the big stage? Barkley acts as if the Wizards (to borrow a line from the late, great Jim Croce) are tugging on Superman’s cape. Now, I admit that LeBron is something else to witness, but until you win a championship, a superhero you are not. (Apologies to all those who played in the Michael Jordan era….many of you had what it takes, but were faced with the misfortune of being a victim of the wagging tongue.)
Yes, there are those who have talked their team into a loss by riling up King James…the “Sleeping Giant.” But the only two prime examples of this have come from fans. Or, Chris Bosh’s cousin and girlfriend.
And I guess we shouldn’t forget about incident #2 between LeBron and fans this year. With the Cavaliers down 68-62 to the Trail Blazers heading into the 4th quarter, some fans in Portland’s Rose Garden had some choice words for LeBron James. [unfortunately, the YouTube of the occasion on the preceding link does not work] King James would go on to hit three consecutive 3s and personally outscore the Blazers 17-15 as Cleveland took the game in the final period, 84-83.
Look, I’m pretty sure that LeBron gets heckled by fans in many opposing NBA arenas, but that doesn’t keep people from wondering if fans will learn not to mess around with Jim or Bad, Bad LeBron James. Although, does it even matter?
Let me remind you, sideline-sitting fans DeShawn Stevenson and Gilbert Arenas are not. Unlike the crowd, they take the court to back-up their words. Their desire to prove themselves right can be channeled into effort in the game.
I agree with the Pradamaster’s assessment on Bullets Forever, exclaiming that such talk is ‘All fun and games, really.‘ My initial reaction was to thank Charles Barkley, because who is to say that his bulletin-board material has not thrown the momentum of slight back in favor of the Wizards?
As much as people focus on the garbage-speak, no one seems to consider what it takes to back up such talk. I know DeShawn Stevenson isn’t known for making the best decisions [scroll to the bottom of this post], but that doesn’t mean he lacks pride to stand behind what he spits. DeShawn is far from the player that LeBron James is….not even in the same universe. But all Stevenson needs to worry about is defense and knocking down open threes. He doesn’t have an entire team, faced with the criticism of going backwards in the possible event of defeat, on his spasming back.
I’ve thanked Charles, now maybe he should thank DeShawn and Gilbert. After all, they’ve given him a reason to run his mouth. (I know, I know….like Chuck really needs ammunition.)
Will keeping it real go wrong for DeShawn Stevenson? I’m ready to find out.