Weekly Run newsletter: LeBron James’ tootsies get some extra scrutiny in Salt Lake City

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) wait on a rebound in the first half during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

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LeBron James’ feet have gotten a lot of attention in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s Jazz-Lakers game.

First, there was that time in the first quarter he picked up his dribble and just started walking with the ball, while Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic implored the ref for a traveling call that was not forthcoming.

“Probably one of the worst things I’ve ever done in my career. I didn’t even realize I did it until halftime, to be honest. One of my coaches showed me,” James told Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group afterward. “… I think I was ready to pass the ball. And my brain just — I had a malfunction. I really had a malfunction. I feel bad for the refs on that one, because they’ll probably get a write-up on that.”

That play turned out to be a quasi-humorous afterthought given the outcome. But the other instance of James’ feet making news lingered into Thursday, prompting him to write a lengthy Instagram post defending his actions after he was called out in the TV broadcast by Jazz by play-by-play man Craig Bolerjack and color commentator Matt Harpring for “disrespect.”

With about 2:35 remaining, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma blocked two shots by Jazz center Tony Bradley in rapid succession, prompting a shoeless James to walk onto the court during play to celebrate. Bolerjack and Harpring, initially unaware James had, at that point, given his sneakers away to a pair of children sitting nearby, at first perceived his shoelessness as an apparent sign of rubbing in the lopsided nature of the game by indicating his services would no longer be required. Even after correcting that, they still took issue with him wandering onto the court and whooping it up while play was ongoing.

James chalked the reaction up to “Negativity, bad energy, hate, envy.”

Jazz fans on social media expressed disgust at the display.

Thing is, though, after the game, no one from the Jazz was the least concerned about where James’ feet were or what they were doing. They were far more concerned about the lack of activity from their own extremities, which contributed to L.A.'s 32-5 advantage in fast-break points.

“There were a number of times when we didn’t run back as hard as we needed to,” coach Quin Snyder pointed out. “It’s that simple. They ran the court harder than we did.”

In case you missed it

It’s been a rough stretch of late for the Jazz, who’ve lost five of six, and even had to rally from a big deficit in that one victory in that span. The Tribune’s coverage of all of this, meanwhile, experiences no such corresponding dips in quality, if we do say so ourselves!

Among the best work of the past week …

Julie Jag wrote about LeBron picking up his first win in SLC in nine years. Columnist Gordon Monson took a look at how a roster that’s supposed to be much-improved at shooting really hasn’t done it yet. While in Philadelphia, Andy Larsen wrote about the fundamentally opposite post-up philosophies of the Jazz and Sixers.

Andy also wrote a column about the NBA proposing a pair of in-season tournaments in an effort to whip up flagging public interest. But are they a good idea? And yours truly put together a feature on the aforementioned Bogey, digging into the numbers to discover that he’s already become one of the elite secondary scorers in franchise history.

Other people’s stuff

• Before Wednesday’s blowout, the Jazz said criticism of their recent play had gone overboard. After the blowout, Tony Jones of The Athletic wrote about how the Jazz were now conceding, “We’re not where we want to be.”

• Katie Heindl of Uproxx Dime took a look at some interesting parallels between the Jazz and Raptors, and specifically between Mike Conley and Fred VanVleet.

• Jasen Lee of the Deseret News took a look back at the Jazz’s “disastrous” 1-4 road trip, analyzing what fed into it and what might be done about it.

• After that same road trip, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps called it “abysmal” and “lopsided,” noting that the Jazz are in need of a regroup right about now.

• Michael Lee of The Athletic took a look at the backcourt pairing of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, and how they’re determined to get things right after a rough start.

• Have I mentioned that terrible, awful, no-good road trip? It wasn’t all bad. Ryan Miller of KSL wrote about how Rudy Gobert used two of the stops on the trip as a chance to donate to some organizations in need.

• Ben Dowsett of Forbes wrote about how Quin Snyder and his fellow NBA coaches are approaching the one challenge they’re afforded per game.

Up next

After taking Thursday off, the Jazz will return to practice on Friday, and be back in action Saturday night (8 p.m. tipoff, people!) at The Viv against Memphis. (It only seems like they’ve already played a million times.) Then, on Monday, they host the OKC Thunder, and next Wednesday, they’ll head to Minneapolis to take on the Timberwolves.