The reception to Gregg Doyel getting verbally backhanded by LeBron James after Game 3 was a tad bit mixed.
Some chastised the CBSSports headliner for asking what they believed to be a stupid, loaded question. Others disagreed with the notion that LeBron had a tendency to “shrink” when it mattered most, but applauded Doyel’s gusto and his courage to ask an uncomfortable question to a superstar's face.
The only underlying sentiment that all participants shared, though, was that nobody particularly agreed with the central premise of Doyel’s question.
LeBron shrinks? What? Huh?
Sure LeBron only went one-of-three from the field in 12 minutes of fourth-quarter play during Game 3, but that’s just one side of the ball. He played great defense versus a guy he's six inches taller than in Jason Terry, and he had that one nifty little pass that resulted in a Chris Bosh game-winning jumper. So there’s that, I guess. Plus, in Game 4, with the criticism at an all-time high, James would step up and be the self-proclaimed King that he is, right?
If LeBron went out with in a whimper in Game 3, he went out bound, gagged and unconscious in Game 4.
Wilting in the face of pressure (yet again), James put up the following stat line in his first post-Doyel showing: 8 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. The Heat lost the game, obviously, and did so largely because an undeniable lack of production provided by James from beginning to end. That, coupled with Dwyane Wade’s inability to completely carry Miami on his back in the wake of LeBron’s ineffectiveness, destroyed any shot the Heatles had at taking a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks.
Doyel’s question doesn’t look so stupid anymore, does it? Well, eh.
The truth is LeBron was fine in Games 1,2 and 3. He wasn’t stellar, clearly, but he was hardly a burden on his teammates. He made timely passes, good defensive stops and played well within the general offensive scheme that Erik Spoelstra gets handed to him by Pat Riley before every game. He paled in comparison to Wade, but then again, who doesn’t?
Doyel’s question wasn’t entirely appropriate when it was asked, and that’s why it garnered the reception that it did. Had the same question been thrown out there after Game 4, the CBS super-writer might have received a softer punch-back from LeBron and a little more support from all parties involved.
Still, let’s give Doyel a bit of credit for what he’s had to deal with. A.J. Daulerio -- the mastermind behind Deadspin as it is now -- beat me to this point and was far more succinct about it, but the way Doyel has handled everything from the very beginning has been admirable. He noted that LeBron hit him with a great response to an admittedly pointed question, didn’t bother to get petty about it and moved on without letting it affect his journalistic integrity. In the day and age of wannabe stars galore in the media, it’s wonderful to see someone realize that they’re not above the craft.
With all of that mushy stuff in mind, check out Doyel getting destroyed in the clip below. It’s still funny on the 10th viewing.