LeBron James on Jay Cutler

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
3:51
PM ET
Wallace By Michael Wallace
ESPN.com
Archive
MIAMI -- It's Tuesday. So that could mean only one thing: It's weigh-in day for LeBron James.

No, not weigh-in as step on the scale and measure his body-fat percentage. That's another day. (Seriously. The Heat do checks on a regular basis. It's the Pat Riley way.)

On this day, it was another episode of “Ask LeBron.” Don't get that confused with “LeBron Speaks” Thursday or “LeBron on ... ” Friday.

When a team garners as much attention as the Miami Heat, and a player attracts as large a media crowd on a daily basis as LeBron, there are often days when writers run out of ammo. The Heat are in the midst of a stretch of only two games in 11 days.

So today, it was a challenge to come up with new material to toss at LeBron.

Chris Bosh's injury? Been there.

Playing more power forward? Done that.

Bump-gate between James and coach Erik Spoelstra? Don't go there again.

So what was the most juicy scoop the media dug out of LeBron after Tuesday's practice? His thoughts on the firestorm of criticism that has surrounded Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who left the game midway through the Bears' loss to Green Bay in Sunday's NFC championship.

Cutler, the sometimes surly, often arrogant, championship ring-less quarterback, has taken heat from current and former NFL players for not being tough enough to gut it out and play through what turned out to be a torn knee ligament to finish out the second half of Sunday's game.

He's been called a quitter by some, a softy by others. LeBron faced the same type of backlash at the end of last season, when there was a strong sentiment that he quit on the Cleveland Cavaliers during a second-round playoff series against the eventual conference champion Boston Celtics.

Fair or not, some in the media have linked James to Cutler. So James was asked for his opinion of how Cutler has been treated in the media and on Twitter in the aftermath of Sunday's meltdown.

Truth is, James wanted no part of the discussion. He didn't see the question coming, but he reluctantly and hesitantly obliged.

“In today's world of sports and social media, I think it's unfortunate,” James said. “I don't know him personally, so I'm not going to get up here and defend Cutler, because I don't know him. As a teammate, I've never been around him. But I believe if a guy is healthy enough, he would have played. But I'm not sure. I'm not his teammate. I'm not around in the fight with him.”

What about other athletes taking shots at Cutler?

“That's their own business,” James continued. “I've been in Jay Cutler's shoes. So I know how it feels to have people saying you, you know, wasn't up for the task. He'll be all right. He'll come back next year, when he gets healthy, and help his team win.”

LeBron didn't go the Cutler route alone Tuesday. Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, a Chicago native and die-hard Bears fan, backed his hometown quarterback, too.

“As a competitor, I want him to be in there,” Wade said. “But obviously, if he wasn't in there, he couldn't go. You cannot question Jay Cutler's toughness. I'm not going to question his toughness. When a guy get sacked 53 times or whatever the number is, and gets back up -- and when you're playing quarterback, you're tough. It's one of the toughest positions to play.”

Coincidentally, the Cutler debate hit the Heat's practice on the same day a Sports Illustrated poll was released that revealed James was picked as the NBA player who would most likely be effective as an NFL quarterback.

According to the poll, 164 players were asked who would make the best NFL quarterback, and nearly a quarter of them voted for James (24 percent), who was followed by Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (13 percent), Hornets point guard Chris Paul (9 percent), Suns point guard Steve Nash (7 percent) and Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (7 percent).

So the timing of the line of questioning on “Ask LeBron” Tuesday was practically perfect.

Perhaps this week's “LeBron Speaks” segment will be just as timely.

Maybe we'll stump him with a real tough question. Like who's his Grammy pick for Best New Artist?

Justin Bieber or Drake?

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