Celtics coach Brad Stevens dismayed at critics of LeBron James

Says “Nobody else has what he has on his shoulders”

Daryl Ruiter
May 25, 2018 - 7:34 pm

© Greg M. Cooper/Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James has won NBA 4 MVP’s, 3 NBA championships, 8 conference championships and has won 23 straight Eastern Conference playoff series.

He carries his Cleveland Cavaliers’ teammates and coaches nightly.

And yet he remains the most heavily criticized player in the NBA, a fact that just leaves Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens dumbfounded.

“He’s the only guy in the league who gets any scrutiny for having near a triple double and 30 points,” Stevens told reporters Friday morning during the Celtics’ shootaround. “It’s a joke. He’s ridiculous and he’s able to do that through any noise. There’s a number of things that make him special, but that’s up there.”

Prior to Game 6, Stevens doubled down on his earlier comments when asked about James again.

“The amount of scrutiny he deals with after a tremendous game is one of a kind,” Stevens said. “Nobody else deals with that. Nobody else has what he has on his shoulders playing the game and I think the way in which he’s done that, and all the years now that he’s made the finals and gone deep into the playoffs, it’s unbelievable.”

In 2016, James lifted a tremendous weight off of his shoulders when he helped the Cavs erase a 3-1 deficit – becoming the first team in league history to do so – in the NBA Finals and end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought.

Stevens has come to appreciate what it takes to make a deep playoff run, let alone do it every year like James has.

“The stamina required to get through the NBA playoffs only gets more obvious as you go round after round,” Stevens said.

Both the Cavaliers and Golden State face 3-2 deficits in their respective conference finals series in their bid to meet for a fourth straight year in the NBA Finals, although the Warriors just got lucky with Rockets guard Chris Paul out for Game 6 and possibly Game 7 after injuring his hamstring in the final minute of Thursday night’s win that put Houston on top.

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue channeled his inner Rudy Tomjanovich when the topic came up an hour and 45 minutes before tip-off.

 “Never underestimate the heart of a champion,” Lue said. “Until we’re dead in our grave, until Golden State is dead in their grave, it’s not over.”