CLEVELAND - Overrated hasn't worked. Now one of the Washington Wizards is calling LeBron James another name: Crybaby.
Following Cleveland's 100-97 win in Game 4 on Sunday, James, who has absorbed two flagrant fouls in this rough-and-tumble playoff series and has been banged around by the Wizards, was asked about Washington's tough-guy tactics.
"I guess that's what they want to do," he said, "hurt LeBron James in this series. It's not working."
Yesterday, Wizards center Brendan Haywood countered.
"Awww," Haywood said, in a whiny, high-pitched voice to mock James. "They are trying to hurt me."
Haywood, who was called for a flagrant-two foul and ejected from Game 2 after shoving James, believes it's time for Cleveland's superstar to stop complaining.
"I mean come on man, this is the playoffs," Haywood said following yesterday's practice. "He wears 23, he wants to be Michael Jordan, I can respect that, he's a great player. You saw what Mike went through. Mike got fouled way worse than this. No one is trying to hurt him, everybody is trying to play basketball, trying to play tough. Play basketball and leave it alone."
If it were only that easy.
With at least one game to go, Washington vs. Cleveland Part III has featured weeks of back-and-forth trash talk, intense games loaded with hard fouls, even dueling rap stars. Haywood's remarks - and a postgame comment from James - will provide the backdrop as the teams prepare for Game 5 tomorrow night at Quicken Loans Arena.
With a win, the Cavaliers, will close out the Wizards for the third straight year in the postseason, something Washington's players insisted wasn't possible before the series began. To finally eliminate Cleveland, they had to stop - or at least slow down - James, but other than knocking him to the floor a few times, that has hardly happened.
On Sunday, James turned his anger from a flagrant foul committed against him by DeShawn Stevenson on the Wizards with his best all-around game of the series. In 44 minutes he scored 34 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists, the final one to Delonte West, whose 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Cavs a victory.
James has been knocked on his royal rear-end several times, but he has always gotten up, and through four games, he's averaging 29.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
The NBA fined Stevenson $25,000 for "making menacing gestures" during the first quarter of Sunday's game.