LeBron avoiding war of words with Pistons coach
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) LeBron James has enough to handle with the young and brash Pistons. He isn't about to fight their coach, too.
James refused to fire back at loquacious Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy, who was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday for criticizing officials during Cleveland's Game 1 win over the Pistons. Upset with two non-calls in the first quarter, Van Gundy took advantage of a TV interview to present his case to the public that James gets preferential treatment from referees.
''LeBron is LeBron,'' Van Gundy told ABC. ''They're not going to call offensive fouls on him. He gets to do what he wants.''
Following Tuesday's practice, James said he was unaware of Van Gundy's remarks and was careful not to turn the series into any kind of personal grudge match.
''I think it's a non-issue,'' James said. ''He's gonna say what he has to say to get an advantage for his team, but at the end of the day, the game is played in between the four lines and that's all that matters.
"Listen, I'm 31 years old, man. I don't get caught up in no shenanigans.''
There is some history between James and Van Gundy. In 2009, Van Gundy coached an Orlando team that stunned Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals. James respects Van Gundy and appreciates the gamesmanship.
Van Gundy, though, wasn't the only Piston with a problem.
On Monday, Detroit's 19-year-old rookie forward Stanley Johnson said the four-time league MVP tried to throw him to the floor in the opener. Johnson said he was surprised by James' rough treatment.
''I understand he's a physical guy, but if he wants to grab me and try to throw me to the floor and you call the foul on me, I just don't understand that,'' Johnson said. ''I've never had a person grab my jersey and try to throw me to the floor and I come up on the wrong end of things like that. That kind of woke me up a little bit. From that point on, it was like, `It's on.' You want to foul?
''We both can go to the floor next time.''
James said he couldn't remember the play Johnson was talking about and wasn't going to engage in any verbal spat with Johnson, Van Gundy or anyone.
''It's not about me versus Stan. It's about his teams versus the teams that I've been on and I'm not having an individual matchup with Stan or an individual matchup with Stanley or any other Stan they can possess,'' he said. ''It's about getting my guys ready. That's all that matters.''