LeBron James Says Spinning Ball in Hands in Front of Serge Ibaka Was 'Bait'

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 1:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court against the Toronto Raptors in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

LeBron James told reporters on Friday that he didn't mean any disrespect when he was spinning the ball in his hands prior to a three-point attempt in the second quarter of Game 2 against the Toronto Raptors

Rather, James said it was a tactic to see if his defender, Serge Ibaka, would play him more aggressively at the three-point line. 

"It's bait," James told ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "If [Ibaka] would have reached in, I would have put it on the floor.

"It was a mental thing. Everything I do is mental."

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James also said that while he understands his every move is viewed through a microscope, he doesn't think the play was a big deal. 

"What if I missed the shot? What if he stole the ball? We wouldn't be talking about it," he said, per McMenamin. 

The Cavaliers proceeded to throttle the Raptors 125-103 to take a 2-0 series lead behind James' game-high 39 points. 

The Raptors, as a result, are facing a must-win situation Friday evening that will require an adjustment in the attitude department. 

"It shows that we're playing too soft...that stops tonight," Raptors guard Norman Powell said of the controversial play, according to Raptors Republic's Blake Murphy

Game 3 will tip off at 7 p.m. ET. on ESPN.  

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