|LeBron encourages, doesn't discourage teammates|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2007 22:19|
So he was probably both surprised and relieved by LeBron James' reaction after he took a pass from James but missed an open 3-point attempt that would have won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
``We go into the locker room and he's laughing,'' Marshall said Wednesday. ``And I turned to him and I'm like, 'What the (heck) are you laughing at?
``He's like, 'You had a great shot, you just missed it.' And that right there lifts you right back up. A lot of guys could sit up there and say, 'Man, I should have shot it' and complained about it. He's there laughing. I'm sitting at the locker (angry).''
James was heavily criticized for the decision to pass instead of shoot on that play, but has said he will always pass if it is the right play. And he insists his teammates take the open shot, even if they are struggling - as Marshall did at one point in the second round against New Jersey.
``After Game 5, when I was 0-for-7, the reason I went 0-for-7 is because he's the one who kept telling me to shoot the damn ball,'' Marshall said. ``I didn't want to shoot it no more. He's the one who kept telling me to shoot it, but then I think it helps me out in Game 6 because I had the confidence to keep shooting, that he was going to keep coming to me.''
The San Antonio Spurs will surely try to get the ball out of James' hands in the NBA finals, and James will keep going to players such as Marshall and Daniel Gibson. And they have just one complaint.
``We told LeBron that he buzzes us a lot,'' Marshall said. ``When he passes it to us, in the middle of the pass he's yelling. 'Shoot it!' We're like, 'Man, just relax. You're telling us to shoot it, we're listening to you while we're trying to focus on our shot.' But that's the confidence he has in us.''
FINALLY FOR FINLEY: Perhaps it was the sight of all those cameras in his face that made Michael Finley temporarily forget basic geography.
Answering a question about LeBron James, Finley said the Cavaliers' superstar had done a lot for the ``state of Cleveland.''
``Excuse me, the city of Cleveland,'' Finley said. ``I'm a little excited, too.''
Given that it took the Spurs' guard 12 years to get here, that excitement is certainly understood.
On a team loaded with NBA finals veterans, Finley is playing for his first championship. And since he grew up a Bulls fan watching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen win six titles, he never imagined it would take this long.
``When I was growing up in Chicago, I thought this was something that everybody experienced, playing in the finals or just being part of the finals,'' Finley said. ``Watching MJ and Scottie lead those teams to those trophies was very exciting for me at the time and it was something that made me want to get to this point to get the opportunity to feel what they felt then in the NBA finals. And after 12 years I'm finally here.''
Finley spent most of his career in Dallas, teaming with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash to turn a team that for years was one of the NBA's biggest losers into one of the top teams in the powerful Western Conference. But the Mavericks couldn't get past the Spurs, who signed Finley after Dallas waived him in a cost-cutting move following the 2004-05 season.
To make matters worse, Dallas reached the finals in the year after Finley left - beating the Spurs along the way.
``From a competitive standpoint, I was a little bit jealous,'' Finley said, ``being that I felt that I was an integral part of that team building and becoming a championship-caliber team. And then not to get a chance to play in the game, it was a little hurt, but at the same time it was something that motivated me coming into this season.''
But Finley, who moved into San Antonio's starting lineup late in the season and has averaged 13.1 points in the playoffs, never gave up hope that he would finally get his chance.
``I knew my time would come,'' he said. ``I thought it would be in Dallas. But I've always had a feeling that my time would come, and better late than never.''
CAVS GETTING DUCKS IN A ROW: Just call him Drew ``Ducky'' Gooden.
The lone patch of hair the Cavaliers' Gooden sports at the base of his neck is apparently called a ``duck tail'' and is the result of an early season dare.
``Everybody started bringing back these mohawks and all these 80s hairstyles,'' Gooden said. ``That's my contribution to the retro comeback.''
And it could be around for a while.
``At the beginning of the year ... I didn't think I was going to do it,'' Gooden said. ``I proved them wrong. I went longer in the season, now I'm in the postseason with it and who knows, if we win the whole thing I might continue to have it.''
Gooden's patch may be the start of a yet another superstition for the Cavs forward. When he caught his roommate and his little brother playing a video game with the Spurs matched against the Cavs recently, he told them to turn it off.
``I didn't want them to jinx the series,'' he said, noting that his team was losing early in the first quarter of the virtual game.
TREATS FOR THE TEAMS: Far from home and in hostile territory, the Cleveland Cavaliers were receptive to the down-home motherly warmth brought to them in the form of cookies from Marjorie Johnson, a blue-ribbon baker who appears on NBC's ``The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.''
Johnson made the rounds Wednesday, camera crew in tow, at practices for both the Cavs and their opponent, the San Antonio Spurs, offering sugary goodness out of a shiny red tin to any and every player who was interested.
At least one Cavalier - name withheld to protect him from coach Mike Brown - could be seen crunching away right on the court.
And when the Spurs' 6-foot-6 Manu Ginobili politely refused her offer, Johnson, who couldn't be much more than 4 feet tall and was decked out all in red, persisted, urging him to take one for later.