LeBron James’ complaint about Miami Heat’s sleeved jerseys turns into a familiar circus

03/08/2014 12:00 AM

03/14/2014 2:43 PM

Everything involving LeBron James is magnified 1,000 times through the lens of superstardom’s electron microscope.

So when the back-to-back MVP complained about his too-tight jersey after the Heat’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, that Petri dish of absurdity only James knows quickly came into focus.

It had been so long since a nonsensical sideshow of the Heat’s traveling circus took center stage, but there it was, humming loudly in the visiting locker room of San Antonio’s AT&T Center.

Megaphones in hand, the carnival barkers emerged from their circus tents and were louder than ever.

“Let’s not make it about the jersey,” Dwyane Wade pleaded. “We got our butt kicked. That’s it.”

But it was too late for that. Everyone knows that string confetti can’t go back into the can.

That silly stuff was everywhere already Thursday, and it wasn’t going away. Some just decided to play along with the gag at that point.

And so Chris Bosh fed the beast.

“I’m not as big as LeBron,” Bosh said.

“His shoulders are a little bit bigger than mine, and he likes to wear smaller sizes. He kept saying it was tugging on his underarm a little bit, but I’ve always said I’m more of an old-school type basketball player.

“They’ve been having tank-top basketball jerseys for 100 years, and they should keep it that way.”

In other words, maybe if James wasn’t so concerned with showing off his muscles, he might have actually made a three-pointer Thursday rather than missing all three of his attempts.

Bosh and his sleek frame had no problem with his jersey, of course. He went 10 of 16 from the field, 1 of 2 from three-point range and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line.

Wade shot slightly better than James. He went 7 of 15 from the field, which is a great night for most players but below average for the Heat’s starting shooting guard, who has been the most efficient backcourt player in the NBA this season.

Like James, Wade wasn’t a big fan of the sleeved jerseys, which the NBA has asked teams to wear for the league’s “Latin Nights” program.

“Hopefully, we don’t have many more [games] in them,” said Wade, before adding, “It ain’t the reason we lost. You’re just not used to it. [San Antonio] didn’t have a problem with them. It is what it is.”

When Twitter finally calmed down Friday and the talking heads were finished valiantly defending the integrity of sports — athletes should never make excuses and all that — only one explanation remained for the Heat’s worst loss of the season: The Spurs are still one of the NBA’s top title contenders, and coach Gregg Popovich will have his veteran players ready for another run at the crown come April.

Just like in last season’s Finals, the Spurs dared James to beat them with his jump shot. This time, the plan worked. It also helped that the Heat didn’t seem well prepared for the Spurs’ defensive pressure.

The Heat had 21 turnovers, including a team-high five by James.

“They’re one of those teams that you have to have more than one day to prepare for if you really [are] going to do a great job against them,” Bosh said.

“They’re going to make plays. They play very, very well together. They can play with a blindfold on as far as guys knowing where they’re supposed to be. That’s what they do, and they’ve been doing it for a long time.”

LEARNING CURVE

The Heat would like to give Michael Beasley consistent minutes, especially with the playoffs inching closer, but the offensively gifted former No. 2 overall draft pick has had difficulty integrating himself into the team’s defensive schemes.

Beasley helped his cause by scoring 11 points against the Spurs, and he made a few notable defensive plays.

“It’s up and down for him,” Wade said. “Of late, he has been playing very well for us as he’s trying to get back into his rhythm. We’re going to need him, and we hope that he continues to get the concepts of what we’re trying to do.

“Because we’re going to need him at some point.”

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