- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 20, 2008


LeBron James should be suspended from Game 2 after being unable to control his inner bully yesterday.

James deposited an elbow in the face of Andray Blatche with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. He then twice threatened to drop an elbow on Brendan Haywood, first to his groin region and then to his face, after the two became tangled near the end of the first half.

Players from both teams rushed to aid James and Haywood, and not surprisingly, referees Bob Delaney, David Jones and Scott Foster decided the Wizards were the principal instigators.

See how that works? James threatens Haywood’s capacity to sire children, and it is considered bad form on Haywood’s part to have a reaction to it.

And it also was considered bad form on the part of Antawn Jamison to make inquiry. And you could understand Jamison’s concern. It is not every day that an NBA player makes a move on another player’s groin.

This is James, the schoolyard bully who sometimes exhibits little class. It is as if he cannot let his wondrous talent tell his story. He has to add a strut, a glare and an elbow or three.

Do not expect the league office to act in a persuasive manner with James. He is a top-five player in the NBA and a Nike pitchman.

The league probably will fine James and be done with it. Yet if it was anyone else but James — let’s say Gilbert Arenas was delivering elbows in Game 1 — you can be certain the culprit would be sitting tomorrow night.

As it was, the Wizards and Cavaliers gave a familiar show.

James finished plays in the final minutes, the Wizards became tentative, out of sorts, and the Cavaliers won a game 93-86 that seemingly could have gone the other way.

But that is usually how it goes between the Wizards and Cavaliers in the playoffs.

The Wizards appear on the cusp of victory, and James proceeds to rip their hearts with one drive after another to the basket.

After Arenas scored on a layup to put the Wizards up 84-82 with 4:38 left, they did not score again until Caron Butler converted a meaningless layup with four seconds left.

“We got good looks down the stretch, and it could have gone either way,” Arenas said. “With a player like [James], it is hard to stop him. There really is no answer for him. When the game is on the line, if I have the ball, I am going to try take over, too. LeBron responded at the end of the game. That is what great players do.”

Arenas dismissed the suggestion that the Cavaliers own the psyches of the Wizards.

“We can’t think about the last two years,” he said. “It is just Game 1.”

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said he liked how his team responded to the high emotions between the teams.

“It was a tough, physical, hard-fought game,” he said. “Washington went on a run. We had the little skirmish. And we still kept our composure. And that is what you have to do in the playoffs. There were a couple of times in the game where we could have let the referees or the skirmish bother us.”

Brown did not object to the extraneous actions of James.

“When he drives to the basket, it’s a tough situation because he is a big, strong man,” Brown said. “He gets hit and hammered around. I didn’t see him throw an elbow. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. I don’t know.”

For Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, the game-closing proclivities of the Cavaliers has a “Groundhog Day” quality to it.

“Is it a broken record?” he said. “To a certain degree, it is because LeBron can get to the basket and make plays.”

James made shots around the basket, the Wizards settled for jump shots, and that was the difference.

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