LeBron James Talks Jordan Bell's Dunk: 'You Play the Game Until It's Over'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2017

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks backcourt during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on October 20, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  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. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James doesn't mind that Golden State Warriors rookie Jordan Bell took an opportunity to create a highlight for himself during Golden State's 133-103 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.

James said the onus was on the Mavericks to defend Bell on the play and downplayed the significance of Bell's alley-oop, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor:

Chris Fedor @ChrisFedor

#Cavs LeBron James was asked about Jordan Bell's late-game dunk that angered Mavs coach Rick Carlisle & others https://t.co/KQLWne1gJC

In a move generally reserved for the All-Star Game, Bell threw the ball off the backboard to himself and completed a two-handed dunk with a little under three minutes left in the game. NBA TV shared a replay of the jam:


Up by 25, @warriors rookie @1jordanbell goes off the glass! 😳 https://t.co/1sLNvGmifr

The dunk appeared to upset Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle. According to The Athletic's Anthony Slater, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr attempted to address the issue with Carlisle after the game, but Carlisle "zipped right past, displeased."

Kerr told reporters he assumed Bell's alley-oop would upset some on the Dallas sideline, per Slater:

Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater

Steve Kerr said the young guys just thought the Jordan Bell dunk was nice, but older guys knew Mavs/Carlisle would feel disrespected https://t.co/5SXT1TfDck

Golden State forward Draymond Green defended his teammate.

"Listen, man, when you get on the basketball floor—I don't care if you get out there with two minutes to go, up 25 or two minutes to go, down 25—somebody is evaluating you," Green said, per the Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko. "You want to throw it off the backboard? Feel free, and dunk the ball. He got an and-1."

On one hand, the Mavericks' frustration is understandable. Already down 25 points, the last thing they'd want to see is a rookie run down the floor and hit a highlight-reel dunk.

As Green intimated, though, it's hard to begrudge a player such as Bell for making the most of his chance to raise a few eyebrows. The 2017 second-round draft pick has played 31 total minutes in Golden State's first four games.

Barring an injury to Green, Bell won't see the floor much as a rookie beyond garbage time at the end of games. Bell might as well maximize what playing time he has. After all, few would be talking about him following Monday's game were it not for his alley-oop.


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