…partially because Semenko never took off an opponent’s head merely for mocking Wayne Gretzky. In the aftermath of Miami’s Udonis Haslem and Pittman earning some measure of physical revenge against Indy last night — keeping in mind that Haslem was merely giving Tyler Hanbrough a taste of his own medicine — Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski suggests not only was the latter’s assault likely to curry favor with Pat Riley (“this is straight out of Riles’ handbook, the way for a marginal young forward to earn his way with the Heat”), but no one should hold their breath waiting for LeBron James to stick up for a teammate in similar fashion.
Pittman understood the message Howard had been sending with his pursuit of Stephenson, and clearly acted in accordance with the sniff of violence in the air. Stephenson offended James, but it’s doubtful James pushed for this kind of retaliation. In fact, here’s a story on how James sees retaliation: In February 2006, Rasheed Wallace clobbered Zydrunas Ilgauskas in a Detroit-Cleveland rivalry game. Gash. Blood everywhere. Big Z had to leave the floor and go to the locker room to get bandaged before returning to finish the game. When it was over, Wallace made clear the shot was intentional.
Here’s what bothered Ilguaskas, a source in the Cavaliers’ locker room remembered: “He looks out on the court in the second half, and there’s LeBron talking with ‘Sheed like nothing happened,” the source said. “They were hanging out on the court, joking, and it really bothered Z. But that’s LeBron – or, at least, that was him.”
Whatever happens, it always comes back to LeBron James. Someone’s going to get hit on Thursday night and, rest assured, James will brace for this truth: If the Pacers are going down in this series, they’ll probably try to take someone with them.