Skip to content

Winderman: The fuzzy line of NBA talk, tampering

Feb 10, 2012, 1:11 PM EDT

APTOPIX NBA All Star Basketball AP

Sorry, just not sure how this works anymore, when it comes to what is tampering what is innocent conversation, and, frankly what is NBA protocol and civility.

Perhaps because Kobe Bryant and LeBron James aren’t impending free agents, it’s all simply viewed as innocuous.

So Larry Bird, in his role as Pacers president, talks freely about Kobe being the player he’d want at his side if winning was the priority, but LeBron as the choice if it came to having fun on the court. Oh, and he says LeBron, by far, is the best player in the game today.

Kobe follows up by saying that if he was forming the league’s top duo, his choice for a partner would be LeBron.

Again innocent, candid, innocuous fun.

But what if Bird, whose team could be well-positioned in 2012 free agency, substituted Dwight Howard, a potential impending free agent, when he instead used the names of Kobe and LeBron on that ESPN podcast?

And what if Kobe, who has spoken openly of seeking a roster upgrade, had used Dwight’s name during his interview with ESPN’s Los Angeles radio affiliate, instead of LeBron?

Innocent, candid, innocuous fun then?

Or is this merely how it goes now with every comment parsed as if spoken in some type of code, including James’ reactions to the actions of others?

As a player, there are limitations of league influence on Bryant, similar to those who wanted a review of the plotting of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in advance of 2010 free agency.

With an executive, there is more significant oversight.

The point being that there often is an agenda behind the words, particularly as the trading deadline and then free agency approach. Perhaps not in these cases, but certainly in others.

Bryant mentioned how the “pieces would fit” with LeBron, as he very much would like Mitch Kupchak to get pieces to fit.

Bird spoke as a former player in regards to Kobe and LeBron, but also as an executive positioned for a major franchise makeover.

In David Stern’s world, there are understood limitations when it comes to freedom of speech. Just ask Mark Cuban.

These comments clearly didn’t go too far, although some might not say the same about LeBron’s tongue-in-cheek response to the blame game.

On one hand, in this age of social media, there is plenty to be said about hearing directly from the greats, of how the minds of Bird, LeBron and Kobe, and, yes, even Kendrick Perkins work.

On the other hand, perhaps such comparative lip-ature is better reserved for the offseason, when it doesn’t detract from the games, raise eyebrows about ultimate intent.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Latest Posts
  1. Thursday And-1 Links: Tracy McGrady makes minor league baseball roster as pitcher

    Apr 24, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT

    Tracy McGrady Tracy McGrady

    Mock him if you want, Tracy McGrady is getting paid to play baseball.

  2. Kevin Durant is tired of being asked about Tony Allen. Very tired.

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

    Sorry KD, but through two games Allen has been the MVP of this series.

  3. Jabari Parker tells Dan Patrick two-and-done is “ridiculous,” likes ‘Melo comparison

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

    Gardner-Webb v Duke Getty Images

    Jabari Parker says he passed more than Carmelo because he had a better team to pass to.

  4. How much would you pay Lance Stephenson in free agency this summer?

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics  v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    He wants Steph Curry money, but he’ll likely get more like $7 million a year.

  5. Pau Gasol says he would stay with Lakers for Kobe, but there needs to be changes

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Gasol basically wants D’Antoni gone, but even then he likely moves on.

  6. Oscar Robertson says if he were Carmelo Anthony “I would leave today”

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Oscar Robertson thinks ‘Melo should get out of Dodge (and go to Houston).

  7. Nick Young’s first pitch at Dodger game is juuuust a bit outside (VINE)

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Nick Young AP

    He will not be getting a baseball contract soon.

  8. Jason Collins makes the Time 100

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    Bl-5vGACMAE8nxe

    Dwyane Wade does writeup on Serena Williams

  9. Clearly frustrated James Harden argues with reporter, calls him “weirdo”

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    Harden is frustrated. He should be, shooting under 30 percent for two games.

  10. Mike Conley wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT

    Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins

    Grizzlies guard gets Joe Dumars Trophy over Jeff Green, Channing Frye, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Mike Dunleavy

  11. Can LaMarcus Aldridge break the all-time single-playoff scoring record?

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

    Trail Blazers forward is averaging 44.5 points trhough two games

  12. LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard had a duel (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones

    Dwight Howard was aggressive early and put on a show, but LaMarcus Aldridge won the war.

  13. Thursday NBA playoff previews: Which Indiana team shows up?

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Paul George AP

    All three series Thursday night are tied 1-1.

  14. LaMarcus Aldridge ruining Dwight Howard’s chance at redemption

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:40 AM EDT

    Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge

    Trail Blazers take 2-0 series lead with second win in Houston

Featured video

Wizards playing spoiler in East
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. A. Jefferson (3488)
  2. K. Durant (2969)
  3. L. James (2905)
  4. D. Wade (2827)
  5. D. Rose (2730)
  1. J. Noah (2613)
  2. D. Howard (2496)
  3. K. Bryant (2488)
  4. A. Bogut (2322)
  5. P. George (2238)