In the 1970s, Campy Russell was a fixture at forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now a TV analyst for FOX Sports Ohio, Russell repeatedly leans on a favorite superlative to describe LeBron James and the Cavaliers in his post-game analyses: “Unbelievable.”
As in: “LeBron played an unbelievable game.” Or, “Antawn Jamison was unbelievable tonight.”
“Mo Williams was unbelievable from the three-point line,” he might gush. And so on.
It occurred to me, after watching the Cavaliers gawk at Rajon Rondo for four unforgettable quarters in Sunday’s Game Four loss, that Campy knows his stuff.
The Cavaliers, when all is said and done, are unbelievable.
Listen to what LeBron James said about Rondo after the Cavs’ Game Two loss in Cleveland: “We have to do a better job of trying to keep him out of the paint.”
Or Antawn Jamison : “For him to get off and score that many points, but also get his teammates involved the way he did…we’ll look at the film and try to contain him.”
“We don’t just want to play well enough to win,” said James. “We just need to understand that we have to play with a little more sense of urgency from the start.
“We understand that this is the playoffs and every game counts, every possession counts.”
Who is this mysterious “we” he keeps referring to?
“We still have to do a better job on Rondo,” repeated Jamison, apparently with a straight face. “It’s been three games, and he’s done a great job as far as getting into the paint and making it difficult for us.”
“We just know we have to play with that sense of urgency for the rest of the series,” he said. “We can ill afford to let the things we did in the first two games happen again.”
There’s that “we” again.
Excuse me while I breathe deeply and count to ten.
But there’s more.
Remember this, from Mike Brown —also after the Game Three blowout?
“We’ve got to come out and play just like we did today, in Game Four.”
Or, as Campy Russell might say, “Those are some unbelievable quotes!”
The fact is, we can’t believe anything the Cavaliers are saying right now, because their words aren’t backed up by their actions. Sure, they’re saying the right things. They’re just not doing them.
One game they tantalize us with superlative play, the next game they baffle us with—well, you know.
The talent on the Cavaliers is undeniable. I disagree with the naysayers who harp about how the poor supporting cast around James. That’s ridiculous.
This team is loaded, and it is deep. It has speed, size, rebounders, shooters, defenders…you name it.
They’re just not getting it done.
They’re not being aggressive—not consistently.
They’re not playing with a sense of urgency—not consistently.
They’re not doing a good job on Rondo—at all.
I realize that postgame press conference appearances are mandated by the league, and if it’s your turn to appear at one, you have to show up and answer the questions that are asked.
But why say you’re going to do something if you’re not going to do it?
Why say you’re going to play with more urgency if you’re really not?
Why say you need to be more aggressive if you’re not going to prepare yourself, mentally and physically, to do so?
Why say you need to shut down Rondo if you don’t believe you can? There were sure no believers in the Cavs’ pew on Sunday.
I’d rather you risk the fine, skip the press conference, and say nothing at all.
I, for one, am not going to believe anything else I hear from the Cavaliers. From now on, I will believe only what I see.
Thank goodness, though, for Anthony Parker—who, after Sunday’s debacle , said, “We didn’t play very well.”
Contrast that with James’ version: “I thought we played well.”