BOSTON — After a physical, chippy and at times downright dirty Game 4 on Sunday at TD Garden, LeBron James did not have many kind words for the Boston Celtics.
When asked following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 101-93, playoff series-clinching win about his respect for the Celtics, James lauded coach Brad Stevens and his staff but made no mention of the players he’d spent the past four games competing against.
Celtics guard Evan Turner did not share those feelings.
Turner, who spent significant time defending James during the Cavs’ four-game sweep, spoke at length after Sunday’s clincher about the respect he has for the four-time MVP.
“I didn’t find anything malicious about (the trash talk heard at times during the series),” Turner said. “Obviously, the dude’s a competitor. I’ve never caught him in a negative moment. I don’t think he’s an arrogant person. … There’s a lot of guys on commercials and stuff who are big jerks and think they’re better than other people, (but) LeBron accepts challenges. He thinks he’s a human just like you.
“Whether you disagree with someone or not, he’s going to respect you as a man. That’s what I respect about him bigger than anything: He’s by far the best player in our league. He could lose his integrity and lose his humbleness, but he’s a competitor. He’s out there to compete. And I think Kyrie (Irving) shows the same signs. They play the game with class.
“I know it might make people mad to say that, but I’m serious. Because you (have) some guys, they feed off the smell of their own cooking too much. I’m surprised they don’t get punched in the face more often. But those two guys (James and Irving) are very classy people.”
The Celtics felt the full brunt of James’ greatness during their first-round playoff matchup. The Cavs forward averaged 27.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists in the series, capping it off with a 27-point, 10-board, eight-assist effort in Game 4.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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