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Serge Ibaka: “LeBron is not a good defender.”

Jun 19, 2012, 8:59 AM EDT

LeBron James (L) of the Miami Heat defen Getty Images

Serge, when you’re down 2-1 in the NBA finals, you may not want to rattle the cage of the opponent’s best player.

But Ibaka did that and sounded like he is watching a different game than the rest of us in a quote via Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.

“LeBron is not a good defender. He can play defense for 2-3 minutes but not 48 minutes. LeBron can’t play (Durant) one-on-one.”

Um, who can play Durant one-on-one? LeBron can’t. Ibaka can’t. Nobody on this planet can, you’re going to have to go Space Jam to find someone who stands a chance.

Thing is, LeBron is a really good defender. He’s been better than Ibaka this series. Serge is maybe the best shot blocker in the game but in Games 1 and 2 of this series he was stuck on Shane Battier and kept leaving him alone at the arc to run back and protect the paint, only to watch his man Battier drop 17 both games.

Does LeBron pick some spots to conserve energy on defense? Yes. Because he’s also the focal point at the other end of the floor. He has huge responsibilities at both ends, and he’s going to catch a few minutes of rest in there. But he can defend man-to-man, is a great shot blocker himself, can rebound and will create turnovers. He’s a four-time NBA All-Defensive Team first team selection.

But sure Ibaka, see if you can give him a little extra motivation for Game 4.

  1. rodge1 - Jun 19, 2012 at 10:39 AM


    Reggie Miller was great but LeBron could defend him because he’s just as fast and outweighs him by 50lbs. That was a nice yet desperate attempt to seem knowledgable though. Stick to the video games kid.

    • lucky5934 - Jun 19, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      So you are saying that Lebron’s speed and size would keep him up with Reggie Miller? You do know Miller got a lot of his open looks by running around the floor and hitting jump shots off of picks and screens. How exactly would Lebron’s size serve as an advantage of working through screens and then contesting Reggie’s quick release. Lebron can’t even touch Durant’s quick release and he is just jump shooting. Also, Lebron’s perimeter defense is not exactly stellar. I am glad you can quote me the difference in size, but maybe you should pop in a video of Miller from the mid 90’s and then revisit this conversation… kid.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Jun 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

        Dear Kid,
        LeBron wouldn’t be guarding and fighting over screens, the Heat would switch in most situations and defend him with either someone smaller and quicker like Chalmers or Wade or lanky like Battier and James Jones

        Of course this is not to say that LeBron wouldn’t take Reggie out his game in other ways either such as blocking him when Reggie liked to cherry pick or staying in the passing lanes once other defenders had him pick up his dribble

        Never mind the fact that this is a straw argument because Reggie plays more golf than basketball these days

  2. xtremesportsmaniac - Jun 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    He is absolutely right LeBron is not a “good” defender he is a “great” defender. Hopefully this is the last of the stupid quotes from this series I think both teams have a lot of respect for each other. This Thunder team is going to win a championship I just hop it is not this year.

    Lets go Heat!

  3. reedme16 - Jun 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Whats the difference between Kurt making excuses when the Heat lose and you haters blaming the refs when they win? None of you care if the games called fairly and calls are missed both ways, which is the case, you want the Thunder to get every call and the Heat to get none! If the Thunder drive more and shoot less jumpers they will get to the line. Same thing happens to Mia when Bron and Wade start shooting jumpers! Its basketball…..but it’s very interesting how the media potrays the whole situation. When the calls favor the Heat and are questionable they replay them, slow them down, and analyze them! But when a questionable call goes against the Heat it’s ignored, justified, or assumed to be correct! But I guess thats justified by how they came together. The right way to build a team is be terrible for 10 years, get lucky in the draft a few times and pray to GOD you can.keep them if they get good! Not building your team through proven players in free agency! Blasphamy!

  4. scalfor3 - Jun 19, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    im a lebron hater and am rooting for the thunder but…lebron is a much much better defender than ibaka. ibaka blocks lots of shots but other wise is pretty average. saying lebron isn’t a great defender cause he cant guard kd 1 v 1 for 48 minutes is like saying MJ wasn’t a great scorer cause he didnt go off for 50 everygame

    • birdgang - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      Must respect to you for this. People hate LeBron for many reasons and it is their right to do so. But there is nothing more I hate then a LeBron hater who is so shadowed by the hate for him that they will not give the man his due respect for the great player that he is. You being an OKC fan and still being able to admit LeBron’s talents gets you a lot of respect in my book. We have too many so called fans that let their like or dislike for a certain player get in the way of the facts.

  5. trueballs - Jun 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    If we left DPOY voting up to people who truly understand this game (coaches), LeBron would be the Defensive Player of the Year. The coaches gave him the most votes for the all-defensive team. I think voters this year looked at the Knicks and said “hey! They’re playing better defense this year! oh and Tyson Chandler is there! He’s the reason!” …which is partially true…but Woodson had more to do with it IMO.

    Either way. Serge Ibaka…I’m not sure what your strategy is.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      3 TIME MVP, 1st team all defender this year, 9 time All-Star ….


      Ibaka, aka “Iblaka” known for a few nice blocks a game and a 3-4 baseline shots drained while wide-open.

      you’ve got to be kidding me … even if his comment about he can only lock Durant down 2-3 mintues at a time is true, then it looks like those 2-3 minutes at the end of game 2 and 3 worked out pretty well for LeBron didn’t they Ibaka?

  6. bhester1906 - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    They starting to sound like the Pacers. Talking tough to psych themselves up. Not a good sign. I mean everyone is wrong I guess. He’s first team all defensive Ibaka

  7. rodge1 - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Very well said… ‘cantonbitch13’ is the biggest loser of all. She trolls every Heat article and posts ignorant comments about the Heat in a desperate attempt to get attention… I’ve been a bandwagon Heat fan since 1987.

  8. bigkeev124 - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    If you asked me about Lebron and his on the ball defense only and is he a ball hawker than I would say he is just mediocre but when you add in the passing lanes and recovery for shot blocks he is spot on. I think I know what Ibaka is saying in regards to that like a Sefalosha, Battier, Shumpert, and the older guys, Like Payton, or Bruce Bowen, those type of defenders. Lebron is not that but his athleticism makes up for that in other departments as stated already. To me no one really plays D anyway, its too much Olay defense that happens every game and the only time you do that is when you give up the baseline cause your shot blocking cent er is there to greet that player. They do it everywhere

  9. lakerluver - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    This “bulletin board” crap as motivation is overrated. That’s his opinion. If LBJ needs that to motivate himself the Heat are in trouble. Being a ringless veteran player and “the Chosen One” should be motivation enough. GO OKC!!

    • michflaguy - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Yeah…sure. But why piss off a guy who is *already* motivated. Just plain dumb.

  10. michflaguy - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Wow…if LeBron goes OFF tonight and buries the Thunder 3-1, Ibaka will have a lot of explaining to do to his teammates. Ank ANY former player who has played in an NBA championship, and they will all tell you the one thing you do NOT do is run your mouth about the opposition. That’s why this is the Finals…you’re suppose to act like you’ve been there before…not like a trash-talking fool rookie who doesn’t know any better.
    Only way Ibaka makes up for this is to personally guard LeBron and shut him down. Don’t hold your breath…Ibaka’s not *that* good of a defender. : – )

  11. miamatt - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Ibaka: LeBron is not a good defender.

    Lebron: Who is Ibaka?

  12. 49ersgiants4life - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Lebron called ibaka stupid does that mean ibaka is going go off too?

  13. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Don’t understand the point in saying this, whether he outright said it, or was goaded by some sneaky reporter playing on his relative naivete.

    Although James does only defend in spurts and takes 2/3s of games off for the most part, those SPURTS are better than almost everyone else’s defense (except specialists who sell out defensively and give you nothing offensively).

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