The Pistons were crushed by the Heat, which is not altogether surprising. Detroit missed several open shots in the first half, Miami used their superior speed to get up and down the court in the second quarter and 3-point shooters Eddie House and Mike Miller helped stretch the floor when the Heat weren’t getting wide-open dunks and layups, breaking open a semi-close game early with a 39-22 second quarter advantage.
But after a long day of dissecting the busiest day of Pistons news of the season between the Tom Gores speculation and the Dennis Rodman jersey retirement, who feels like breaking down a blowout loss only made respectable because Austin Daye got his jumper un-broke late and scored 15 of his 18 points in the final quarter after starting the game 1-for-6. I have a few other notes, but I’ll get to those in a bit.
Instead, let’s talk about heckling. LeBron James got into it with a fan during the game. The Heat Index has the explanation of the incident, which stemmed when the fan began insulting James’ mother:
“I don’t care what you say to me. I don’t give a [expletive] what you say,” James said to the fan. “But don’t be disrespectful.”
The exchange came during a break in action with 1.7 seconds left in the first quarter and was picked up by television microphones.
James responded to the fan, who shouted the comments within earshot of James’ two young sons who sat courtside near the Heat’s bench.
The fan, who declined to give his name to ESPN.com, said he was offended by James’ cursing.
See, I’m not the world’s biggest LeBron James fan, other than understanding that he’s clearly the best player in the league. I’m much more interested in watching guys who can’t bulldoze their way to the hoop or rely solely on physical gifts to produce. And I’m even less of a fan of James off the court, even if the vitriol over his summer media tour is a little over the top.
I’m also OK with heckling. It’s part of sports and at the end of the day, professional athletes can go cash their large checks and laugh at the schlubs who have the audacity to yell insults at them during games. But two things I hate when it comes to hecklers: a lack of creativity and whining.
First of all, it wasn’t reported exactly what was said about James’ mother. But making fun of a man’s mother, even if there is some internet-fueled fodder to do so, is classless, particularly with her grandkids within earshot.
And secondly, understand some ground rules: if you’re going to heckle, be prepared for the eventuality that someone at some point will probably say something back to you. Some athletes, I’m sure, are better than others when it comes to tuning it out. But don’t whine about profanity like Mr. Anonymous Q. Pistonfan did above. James no doubt has been heckled more than any player in the league in opposing arenas this season. So I’m sure whatever was said about his mother that caused him to react was not some harmless teasing. You dish it out, and then you get offended when it’s dished back, and not only that, you give a quote to a reporter about being offended? That’s Vince Carter soft. Onto a couple things that stood out about the game itself:
Why mess with something that’s working fine?
Not that I think it would’ve made much of a difference in the outcome, but I don’t understand why Rodney Stuckey was moved back into the starting lineup. Stuckey had played well coming off the bench lately. He said he didn’t mind coming off the bench and that he enjoyed being paired with Will Bynum more. Ben Gordon was still playing inconsistently, but he’s had some productive games since he moved back into the starting lineup and seemed to have decent chemistry with Tracy McGrady. So naturally, John Kuester started Stuckey and sent Gordon back to the bench.
The biggest benefits of a Bynum-Stuckey backourt are speed and aggression. They constantly put pressure on the defense to get back because both guys like to grab the ball right out of the basket and race down to try and get a quick shot. Against the Heat, the Pistons played with very little speed or aggression. Early in the season, changes to the lineups seemed to come at a glacial pace. Now, it seems, the lineup changes for no good reason at all.
Bynum still distributing
Just because I’m still annoyed at the Bynum comments after the San Antonio game, I’d like to point out that he has 12 assists and two turnovers in about 45 minutes over the last two games.