OKC Thunder: Serge Ibaka says LeBron James is 'not a good defender'

NBA FINALS — If there was any chance LeBron James needed more motivation, he got it Tuesday courtesy of Thunder big man Serge Ibaka. Ibaka told The Palm Beach Post Tuesday James was not a good defender and that “he can play defense for two or three minutes but not for 48 minutes.”
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 19, 2012

LeBron James didn't need any more motivation.

Serge Ibaka gave him some anyway.

Ibaka, the starting power forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, said Monday that James is “not a good defender.”

“He can play defense for two or three minutes but not 48 minutes,” Ibaka was quoted as saying by the Palm Beach Post.

Ibaka, according to the paper, went on to say “LeBron can't play (Kevin Durant) one-on-one. They're playing good defense like a team.

On Tuesday, following the Heat's morning shootaround prior to Game 4, James fired back.

“I don't really care what he says,” James said. “He's…”

James paused.

“Stupid,” he said.

“Everyone says something to me every series then (the media) keeps trying to get a quote.”

Immediately, James was informed that his “stupid” comment just supplied it. The three-time MVP then attempted to clarify his words.

“It's not toward him, though,” James said. “It's not. I don't really care what he says. It's stupid.”

Ibaka wasn't available to the media following the Thunder's shootaround. Ibaka finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting behind New York center Tyson Chandler after leading the league in blocked shots.

James, meanwhile, reiterated that he's doesn't view the marquee matchup between him and Durant as a one-on-one battle.

“As a defender, I just try to make plays and try to keep my body in front of a great player,” James said, referring to Durant. “I'm not guarding him for 48 minutes. But when I'm on him, I'm just trying to make it tough for him to make shots, which he's going to make. I'm not sitting here saying I'm the Durant-stopper. There's no such thing.”

Durant stood up for his teammate when he addressed Ibaka's comments Tuesday morning.

“Serge believes in me, and he believes in what we do here,” said Durant. “He's just taking up for me and taking up for our whole team. LeBron is a good defender. I tell him that. He's a good defender. But it's not about him. It's about us and what we can do. So we can't come into the game worried about how he's going to guard me, how he's going to guard (Russell Westbrook), how he's going to guard James (Harden). We can't worry about that. We just got to play our game. That's basically what Serge was saying. Just play my game.”


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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