Wednesday’s Eastern Conference showdown between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets marked LeBron James inaugural visit to the Barclays Center. All James wanted for his first trip to Brooklyn was to play well, have a memorable experience and enjoy the atmosphere of the brand-new, state-of-the-art arena.
The Miami Heat super-star was so excited to play at the Barclays Center, he published the following tweet late Tuesday evening:
Really looking forward to playing in the new Barclay Center tomorrow night
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 29, 2013
Nets power forward Reggie Evans was less enthusiastic about James and the Heat coming to Brooklyn. When asked by the New York Daily News what it would mean to beat the defending champions, Evans replied “It doesn’t prove nothing.” The Nets big man wasn’t impressed by Miami’s title run last season either. “That was a lockout season,” said Evans.
As if belittling the accomplishments of the Heat wasn’t enough, Evans proceeded to personally insult James’ ability as a basketball player. “Our team is defending the Miami Heat. If our team has to defend one person, LeBron isn’t going to score nothing. …LeBron is no different from Joe Johnson or Andray Blatche. No different.”
When asked by reporters what he thought of the verbal barbs, LeBron replied “Who?”
A few hours before tip off James’ published the following tweet:
Just keep throwing rocks at the throne, don't matter cause nothing can break my zone
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 30, 2013
It was clear James’ attitude had changed. Evans foolishly added fuel to the fire; a fire that’s been burning since the Heat were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
He shouldn’t have said anything.
The Heat had already defeated the Nets by 30 and 13 points earlier this season, and James averaged 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and seven assists in those two contests. This is what James accomplished against Brooklyn when he wasn’t pissed off. The moment Evans opened his mouth yesterday the Nets had no chance of upsetting the Heat.
The game was over before it started.
Miami proceeded to complete their three game sweep of Brooklyn, routing the Nets 105-85. James, who never spoke to Evans during the game, finished with a game-high 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
“I let my game do the talking,” James said.
Evans scored zero points and gathered six rebounds in the loss. If the Nets meet the Heat again in the playoffs, Evans will probably take a different approach, for his own sake, and for the sake of his teammates.