Serge Ibaka led the league in blocks this season; LeBron James led the league in scaring guards that he would block their shot from behind on the fastbreak. Another similarity between the two is that they both were named to the NBA’s All Defensive Team.
The difference between them? They disagree with each other about James’ defense.
Ibaka recently said that James was “not a good defender” and that “he can play defense for two or three minutes but not 48 minutes.”
This is clearly a statement made to rile James up, but he is not taking the bait.
“I don’t really care what he says, he’s stupid,” James said. “Everyone says something to me every series, then (the media) tries to get a quote. It’s stupid.”
LeBron knows the effort he is giving on the defensive end this year, and that is why Ibaka’s comments won’t effect him on the court. In my opinion, James has been playing the best individual defense of these 2012 Playoffs; he has guarded every single position on the floor and even more amazingly he has been effective guarding all 5 positions. He knows what is on the line in this series, and his focus has been completely on that.
Ibaka, meanwhile, wants to make it into a one-on-one battle whether it is in words between James and him, or on the court between James and Durant.
“LeBron can’t play (Kevin Durant) one-on-one. They’re playing good defense like a team,” Ibaka told the newspaper.
For the record, in Game 3’s 4th quarter Durant was 1-of-5 shooting with James guarding him. Chris Bosh’s help defense on a few plays was stellar, but the Heat clamped down when it mattered most. The Oklahoma City Thunder just clamped up; Durant couldn’t find his spots on offense, and Russell Westbrook bricked a wide-open 3 with a chance to tie the game.
Hopefully Ibaka can back up his words in Game 4, otherwise, it will be a long off-season for him and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Dave Daniels covers the Carolina Panthers for RantSports as well as NBA content for Court Crusades. You can follow him on twitter @AllDave_AllDay