Trash talk has always been involved in the NBA and it’s become even more prevalent in the bubble, where a lack of crowd noise has allowed fans at home to hear players much more clearly.
Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James was caught in a back and forth with Jimmy Butler during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which the Heat won.
Butler was caught yelling “You’re in trouble!” in the direction of James and the Lakers bench. After the game, Butler explained he was repeating back what James had said to him earlier that night.
James spoke about trash talk during games and what his philosophy on it usually is. “I’ve always been a guy who kind of let his game do the talking,” James said. “But when guys get to talking, I can do that, as well. I’ve always tried to let my game do the talking.
“Some guys like to talk their way through the basketball game. I think it helps them out personally. There’s always communication going on on the floor. For me personally, as long as it doesn’t get disrespectful, I’m fine with it.
“But I’ve never really started up a trash-talking dialogue. That’s just not me. I believe the way I play the game is enough trash talking in itself.”
James very rarely gets asked about trash talk between him and other players, which certainly shows that he prefers to let his game do the talking. However, in the bubble when there are no fans to drown things out, it’s much easier for players to be heard and for storylines to come from the banter.
Game 4 was largely played without issue, and the Lakers remained in control of the NBA Finals.
Butler praises James as ‘final test’
Despite the exchange of words between Butler and James during Game 3, it’s clear that there is a lot of respect within the relationship.
“The main key, and it’s been like this for a very long time, if you want to win, you’re going to have to go through a LeBron James-led team,” Butler said before the Finals began. “At the end of the day, that’s what it normally comes down to. That’s what we got to focus in on.
“Obviously you can’t focus in on him because he has so many really good players around him, but you’re going to get the same test over and over again until you pass, and that test is LeBron James.”
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