Thursday, November 29, 2012
Don't call LeBron James a power forward
By Tom Haberstroh
MIAMI -- With Shane Battier probably sidelined for a few games, it makes sense that LeBron James would step in as the team's starting power forward. At 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, James is certainly big enough to fulfill the role. And he thrived on the block on the path to last season's title, so he knows it's a winning alignment.
So when a reporter asked James if moving to power forward would be like second nature to him at this point, one would assume that James would be on board with the idea.
Instead, James cracked a smile at the notion of playing power forward.
"What's that?" James deadpanned. "I don't have a position."
Ah, the dreaded power forward label. James has shown an aversion to being called a power forward in the past. He will play the role of a power forward, but he has made it clear that he doesn't want to be known as a power forward. Or a point guard. Or a point forward for that matter. James has shaken off any designation that could pigeonhole him into one position.
James also knows that Erik Spoelstra was probably listening nearby. The reigning MVP probably earned some brownie points by endorsing the "position-less" style of play that Spoelstra has espoused all season.
"It’s whatever," James said of his position. "I just try to make plays no matter if I’m at the 4, the 3 or the 1 or whatever the case may be.”
James could be the face of the positional revolution in the NBA, but then again, not everyone is LeBron James. Not everyone can run the offense like Chris Paul, move to the block like Karl Malone, shoot the rock like Dirk Nowitzki (believe it or not, James has the higher 3-point percentage over the past two seasons) and then defend all five positions.
Remember, Spoelstra's the guy who nicknamed James "1-through-5" last season because James can wear any hat he pleases.
"Coach asks me to do everything so I’m out there to do everything," James said. "I can do everything. I’m comfortable in whatever spot he puts me."
Part of the idea of starting Battier this season was to relieve James of the burden of guarding players like Boris Diaw from the opening tip -- and then going down and playing point guard. It would be a surprise if Spoelstra started James on opposing power forwards, even if it is for a couple games.
It's a grueling season and with the endless responsibilities that James holds with the Heat, buying him some time defensively in November may pay dividends later on. Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem could jump in the starting lineup and keep James from being slotted at the 4 from the get-go.
It's unknown who will take Battier's spot in the starting lineup as he nurses a sprained MCL in his right knee, but you can expect James to pick up more opposing power forwards as the game progresses.
But whatever you do, don't call him a power forward.