Livingston writes about it, as does Windhorst, how no Cavalier responded when Z got decked by Rasheed Wallace.
The passive response to Wallace is indicative of the Cavs’ non-threatening personality. In the game itself, a 12-point Detroit win, Ilgauskas made the only reprisal, knocking Wallace to the floor in the second quarter as Wallace shot a jumper.
It would have been unthinkable for a playoff-bound team’s second-leading scorer to be mugged in years past without retaliation. But so much has changed today. Players share agents, they play in the Olympics or in All-Star Games together, they are all getting rich. It’s like the PGA Tour, only without Tiger Woods on the scene.The John Stockton/Karl Malone Jazz or the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen Bulls would never have allowed such an incident to go without reprisal. Same with the “Bad Boys” Pistons. They were rough, but they had each other’s back.
When I saw the incident atthe end of halftime, I decided not to write about it hurriedly, on deadline. The Cavs’ failure to support Ilgauskas was a bigger issue in the game. But in the days that have passed, I have become more convinced that it said bad things about the state of the game, the Cavs and their cornerstone player.
James is an excellent player, but he wants everybody to like him.
t would be interesting to see if Kobe Bryant, Isiah Thomas, Larry Bird or Charles Barkley felt that way. Bill Walton said he never hugged opponents before games. He would be so worked up that he could barely stand to look at the opposition.
The James-Wallace fraternization wasn’t a small thing. It ran counter to the values James so often exemplifies on the court.
A team sport is supposed to make you feel you are part of something bigger than yourself.
It is also supposed to develop loyalty. James has to set the tone on the floor and off, particularly when the game’s subtext is about not being bullied.
This is a problem with the entire team, not just James. Someone should have gotten Z's back, end of story. And someone should also be getting him the ball. Z is an all star caliber center. He can score on almost anybody. Every game starts out the same: the Cavs start out force feeding Z, to establish him. It works, the Cavs go up. I've seen a lot of games were Z will have 8-10 points in the first quarter and finish with 17 for the game. The Cavs lack focus.
Some will complain that Z doesn't pass the ball enough. I'd probably agree with that. However, I'd rather be seeing Z force a shot down low (which might send him to the line) than see Drew Gooden take a 15 foot fade-away, Damon Jones take another timid jumper or Snow take any shot at all.
It's a two way street, if you don't receive the ball alot, you tend to put it up whenever possible. But then you shoot all the time and you're teammates don't want to pass you the ball.
Z needs to be involved the entire game, and as weird as it sounds, so does LeBron. The Cavs can go a 5 minutes without those 2 guys taking a shot (watch the Cavs-Kings fourth quarter) and because neither is really all that vocal, they don't demand the ball.
I'm not kinda rambling, but lets sum this up: LeBron and Z should take most of the Cavs shots. They need to feed Z all game long, not just the first quarter.