October 26, 2020

LeBron James, Lakers lobbying officials may look shameless, but it’s hardly anything new

It wasn’t all that long ago that our heads were filled with Rocktober dreams.



LeBron James, Danny Green standing in front of a crowd: LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers argues a foul call against him during the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in game four at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. The Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets with the win.


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LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers argues a foul call against him during the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in game four at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. The Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets with the win.

It was July, the cardboard cutouts behind home plate seemed quaint, and the Colorado Rockies were 11-3.

Fast forward two months later and we’re only a day away from saying goodbye to baseball in Colorado in 2020. There will be no “R” in October. And, soon enough, there may not be a Nolan Arenado in Colorado.

LeBron James — C+

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat:

The officiating during the Nuggets’ Western Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers has been less than stellar. One could even reasonably argue it’s been unfairly biased toward the Lakers and LeBron — especially during the final minutes of Game 4.

But the outcry across the Front Range that the Lakers did something heinous by lobbying for a more favorable whistle for their star between Games 3 and 4? Eh, maybe, but it’s hardly anything new.

Petitioning for calls between postseason games — usually after losses — has been standard practice in the NBA for years.

A couple of decades ago, Phil Jackson made an art form out of complaining to the media about the way his team was being officiated after a particularly galling loss. And teams have been sending film to the league office highlighting missed or botched calls for as long as they’ve had video departments.

Heck, the Houston Rockets once audited an entire Game 7 call by call and sent the league a report detailing 81 potential missed calls and non-calls they claimed cost them a trip to the NBA Finals.

Franchises will always advocate for their stars as long as human beings are the ones blowing the whistle.

It is neither dastardly nor nefarious, which is why Michael Malone suggested he’d do the same Thursday night.

Broncos O-line — D-

A week ago, the Grading the Week staff gave oft-maligned Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles props for a clean performance in Week 1.

One day later, quarterback Drew Lock was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury after taking a hellacious backside hit and his backup, Jeff Driskel, was under assault seemingly every snap in a 26-21 loss at Pittsburgh.

The lesson, as always: Don’t listen to us.

All told, the Broncos offensive line surrendered seven sacks, 12 knockdowns and five pressures on 52 drop-backs last Sunday, according to beat writer Ryan O’Halloran’s excellent game charting.

Rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry and right tackle Elijah Wilkinson were each credited for giving up 1.5 sacks — although that number felt closer to 10,000 for Wilkinson to our untrained eyes.

Now former Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett — a Pro Bowler last season with Tampa Bay — is coming to town with a chip on his shoulder and a taste for revenge.

Our prediction: Pain.

Pac-12 — B-

Another week, another entity opts to play football in defiance of the coronavirus.

Two weeks ago, it was Gov. Jared Polis and CHSAA giving the go-ahead to Colorado high schoolers to hit the gridiron. This week, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 CEOs decided they were back in the fall college football business (emphasis on business).

That the latter happened on the same day Boulder County prohibited students from gathering in groups couldn’t be more on brand — for all involved.

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