LeBron bump no big deal

Published Nov. 28, 2010 4:45 p.m. ET

There has been much in the Heat's early debacle of a season that can be laid at the feet of LeBron James.

But not The Bump.

As the Heat have struggled, LeBron has not rebounded enough. He has not closed in the fourth quarter when games were within reach. He has complained about his coach and struggled under the weight of the very scrutiny he created.

But the shoulder-to-shoulder contact that occurred Saturday night between LeBron and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra after a 13-0 Dallas run?

Let's call that what it was: Something that happens, and will happen again, with any team over the course of an 82-game season.

In basketball, emotions run high, bodies converge and accidents happen.

It's important - for the Heat, for the media, for those enjoying the Heat-enfreude emerging from their 9-8 start - to call LeBron out when it's right to do so.


And to slow down and take a breath when it's not.

I wasn't at the Dallas game, but one of my colleagues wrote that Spoelstra, when asked about the incident after the loss, seemed to stumble in a way that indicated he couldn't quite recall what had happened.

That rings true.

Had it been otherwise, Spoelstra probably would have addressed it with a carefully worded quote. LeBron, with a candor that sometimes verges on self-righteousness or cluelessness, almost certainly would have let us know there was more to the bump than chance.

As it was, emotions were high. Players were yelling at each other. Coaches were upset. After the game, there was about a 45-minute closed-door meeting.

So there's a lot of anger and turmoil that must be mined in the days ahead in an effort to understand how bad things really are with the Big Three & Co.

But leave The Bump where it belongs, on the floor. Leave it on the floor, just as you would if you could the profanity, mutterings and pissed-off exclamations common to any huddle featuring a team under siege and playing poorly.

Yes, the men's shoulders touched. And, yes, the force of the contact meant Spoelstra's coat almost came off.

But an intentional attempt by LeBron James to physically go after, insult and therefore undermine Spoelstra?

I'm just not buying it.

In part because it's not necessary.

LeBron has made his feelings clear with his complaints about playing too many minutes, and with his lackadaisical play.

If he wants Spo to be no more, chances are all he has to do is say so.

Pat Riley would take his call.

Remember, LeBron has had a historically bad public-relations year.

According to his latest Q Score, the public has only a slightly more favorable opinion of James than it does of a serial wife cheater, a dog killer and a man accused of sexual assault.

He cannot be so far gone in his connection with reality to think - and act on - the idea that bumping Spolestra during a basketball game would be a good idea.

Now that it's happened, a few things need to happen.

We all need to take a deep breath and understand this is part of the normal course of a basketball game.

And LeBron needs to understand normal doesn't apply to him like it does most folks.

Which means this can't ever happen again.

Because accidentally bumping into your embattled coach is one thing.

Making a habit of it is something else entirely.

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