After Stanley Johnson hit a three to give the Pistons a nine-point lead, LeBron James put his broad, refrigerator-sized shoulder into the 19-year-old rookie as the two walked back to their respective benches during a timeout. It was clear it was intentional and it was a message.
After LeBron returned, he went full no-chill mode and dominated the rest of the game while Johnson struggled for the first time in his life to contain James. As thejuan91 pointed out in the comments, James' bump was to the same shoulder Johnson sprained against the Cavs on Feb. 22, from which he returned just recently and hasn't really been the same since pre-injury. James probably didn't know it was the same shoulder Johnson injured against his guys two months ago, but it was still a cheap shot.
And Johnson called it like it was after the game:
#Pistons Stanley Johnson on bump from LeBron: "It’s (fake) as hell...I don’t take anything from it, but a cheap ass shot, a cheap ass bump."— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) April 21, 2016
Johnson got a little carried away during his post-game interview, saying gimcrack things that made me think OK, stop talking now. He did get one thing right for which people are now mocking him: He is in LeBron's head.
One can be in someone else's dome at any time, even when getting bumped and bullied up and down the court in Game 2. Obviously it's not always a good thing. LeBron clearly plays on a different level when you get too deep. Johnson got in LeBron's head, but ultimately it 'deactivated the chill mode' and LeBron did what LeBron often does, which is dominate at playing basketball.
I kind of wonder why it took a 19-year-old getting in LeBron's head to get LeBron to start carrying his guys and playing like he's capable in an important Game 2, but I guess he's human and we all need motivating and maybe that was ultimately the only thing that could get him up for Game 2 in this 1 vs. 8 series. That's my hot-take wonder anyway.
Now your thoughts.