At six-feet tall and 190 pounds, Fred VanVleet is one of the smaller players in the NBA. And as a rookie, he is one of the least tenured. But neither of those facts stopped him Tuesday night from more or less picking a fight with LeBron James, a man who has eight inches, 60 pounds and 14 NBA seasons on him.
The VanVleet-James run-in came with just over four minutes left in the second quarter of Raptors-Cavs Game 1, when the Toronto guard attempted to foul LeBron to halt a fast-break, then got physical with him on a rebound attempt. LeBron, with more than a hint of exasperation, shoved the little guy aside.
Fred VanVleet tries to get physical with LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/PGR3rORivX
— RealGM (@RealGM) May 2, 2018
You’ve got to respect VanVleet’s fire. There he is playing the biggest game of his life, and he’s got enough edge to go around pissing off the best player of a generation. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Here’s what VanVleet said about LeBron on Sunday:
VanVleet on LeBron: "Obviously I respect the guy a lot… but for me, the most respect I can give him is to not give him any respect, in terms of going out there and just trying to challenge him and take him down."
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) April 29, 2018
Sure, things did not work out so well for VanVleet, who was shoved aside like nothing and got charged a foul anyway. But ultimately, that result probably works better for him than if he had actually wound up fighting LeBron.