Maybe Paul George’s mentoring request from LeBron James has adjacent angles. Maybe George used the off court mentoring comment to possibly distract LeBron James’s on court play, but probably not. Most likely there is zero correlation between the Miami Heat’s two game losing streak and what George said. However, the timing is coincidental as the Heat suffered their largest defeat of the season to the Spurs on Thursday night.
“Like what, like Hannibal Lector pick it? Absolutely. Absolutely. You guys should know me by now. I don’t mind at all, giving guys whatever,” said James.
The Hannibal Lector part was a referential joke by James to George’s statement, but clearly the Heat forward is open to off-season tutoring for players searching to improve their game. For now, James should keep his mind focused on the floor and avoid 24-point demolition jobs to the Spurs if achieving his third NBA title.
A combination of factors impacted the 111-87 outcome of the Heat vs. Spurs game at the AT&T Center. The contributing variables were the bottled up feelings the Spurs unleashed in their first game against the Heat since a gut-wrenching final loss in the 2012-2013 seven-game NBA finals, Kawhi Leonard’s glue stick defense aggregating five steals, and the short-sleeved jerseys. A quick analysis presents that James’s on court play was impacted by other factors than off court mentoring discussions.
James said, “I’m not making excuses, but I’m not a big fan of the jerseys.”
A hot button issue today has been the inflexible fit of the newly implemented short-sleeved jerseys. James is not going to make excuses about the jerseys, but clear the tracks for the jersey excuse train. Fortunately for James this is the Heats last game of the season wearing the controversial wardrobe.
James was not alone in complaints directed at the jerseys. Dwayne Wade, always one to complain, Chris Bosh, and San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginobili also expressed frustration with the tight fit. Bigger sleeves seem to be an immediate solution as Ginobili calculated during his pregame shoot around when he switched one size larger. Now Indiana Pacer, Roy Hibbert, is going to wear XXXXXL.
The innovation behind the short-sleeved jerseys has tested financial and non-financial benefits for NBA players. According to Adidas, sales related to short-sleeved jerseys have exceeded expectations. The jersey sales benefit players as they receive 50 percent royalties on jersey sales as well as all NBA merchandise. Apparently the new 60 percent recycled jerseys are also lighter, drier and more comfortable. The players’ reviews from last night’s Spurs vs. Heat game, however, suggest the comfort level is more for head global marketer, Chris Grancio, than for the athletes who actually wear them.
As microscopic basketball analysts break down mentoring and jersey flexibility, the overarching importance belongs to the NBA playoffs. The Pacers are the first team to clinch a playoff berth while also controlling first place in the eastern conference with a two game lead over the Heat. Not saying George’s off court mentoring comment was a possible distraction to James’s on court play, but it kind of was.
Commentary by Niles Olson
NY Daily News