Fans Lose, But Players Win

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 9, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — A sellout crowd of 18,717, many who probably bought their tickets in advance or on game day against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA’s best team, this past Saturday, were disappointed, just like an absent father who promised to pick up his kids for the weekend.

The reason: King LeBron James didn’t play in the Cavs’ 92-85 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center. “I don’t ever debate who the best player in the league is,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said.

“But I know he’s right there for sure. He’s in that conversation.

What happens oftentimes, a guy like that goes out, and other guys, they’ll start salivating a little bit. They’re saying, ‘Hey, I can go out here and have a good night and earn future playing time.’ ”

Skiles referred to forward Antawn Jamison (30 points) and guard Delonte West (27), who scored 67 percent of their teams’ points, but the fans wanted to see the NBA’s leading scorer in action.

James, averaging 30 points per game, turned his ankle in Friday’s win at home against the Detroit Pistons.

At best, he was a game-time decision for Cleveland coach Mike Brown.

“He’s played a lot of minutes for us, and I just felt it would be good for him and for the team to hold him out,” Brown said.

The “King” had two 50-point games against the Bucks on their home court. He scored 52 in December of 2005 and put up a double-nickel on Feb. of last year. Still, there were mixed reactions among several Milwaukee players in the locker room after Saturday’s game.

“I feel bad for the fans,” center Andrew Bogut said. “They came to see LeBron, but oh well.

There will be some people saying, ‘Well, LeBron didn’t play.

If he would have played, they would have won.’ It’s a lose-lose situation for us.”

Bogut said the “lose-lose” situation referred to the fans not seeing James and the Bucks getting away with a win without playing against the NBA’s best player.

“We got up (Saturday) to play one of the best players in the NBA,” guard Brandon Jennings said.

“Of course, we were a little disappointed. But we just had to keep playing basketball.”

With Jennings’ 25 points and sporting a streak of red hair, the Bucks moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Four other Milwaukee players reached double figures in the game.

If the playoffs began today, the Bucks would face the Boston Celtics, who they played at the Bradley Center on Tuesday. With 12 games remaining in March, they can’t look over their shoulder.