Even though he now plays for the Chicago Bulls, it seems Alex Caruso still feels some type of way about his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, particularly when it comes to their infamous 2020 NBA Finals run and subsequent ring.
“Boston wins [Sunday] & it’s 2020 all over again,” Caruso tweeted on May 13. “‘BUT THE BUBBLE DIDN’T COUNT !’”
L.A. finds itself back in the Western Conference Finals after dispatching the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in six games. It’s the first time they have been back since making that controversial run after a three-month shutdown of the entire league — and country — amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
Caruso averaged 6.3 points, 2.3 assists, and 2.3 rebounds during the 2020 NBA Finals making his presence felt in other ways, just as he does now for the Bulls.
Perhaps Caruso is biased by his participation in winning that title.
Some argue it was a meaningless “Mickey Mouse ring”, the result of a sterile environment. And, perhaps, But, others, such as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, say that the lack of fans and other distractions made for the “highest level” of NBA basketball.
As Caruso pointed out, three of the four teams that participated in the Conference Finals in 2020 have already secured their 2023 berths including Denver and the Miami Heat. The last is the Boston Celtics who will face the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 on May 14.
Granted, all of these teams have undergone significant changes since then. But the key figures from that original foursome are still in place.
Warriors’ Jamychal Green Ignored Alex Caruso’s Advice
The Lakers did battle against the Memphis Grizzlies in a series that also went six games to open the playoffs. During that series, soon-to-be-former Grizzlies swingman Dillons Brooks “poked” James with some comments about the latter’s age and perceived inability to score at a high enough level – 40 points – to warrant the former’s respect.
James put up a 20-point, 20-rebound effort in Game 4 of that series while the Lakers won the deciding Game 6 by 40 points.
Caruso offered advice for anyone else who wanted to follow in Brooks’ footsteps.
“Rule No. 1 in professional sports…elite players, you don’t give them bulletin board material, right,” Caruso said during ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ on May 1. “They’re already going to get their numbers…He’s fully capable. And he’s one of the best ever, if not the best ever, and…you’re just trying to show him up. I’m not…’poking the bear’ because these guys, they don’t need the extra motivation. But you live and you learn, right? People have made mistakes before. Take your L and move on to the next one.”
Warriors forward JaMychal Green did not learn from Brooks’ mistake, questioning James’ assertion that his teams don’t flop for foul calls, a response to claims made by Golden State head coach Steve Kerr to that effect.
The Lakers shot twice as many free throws as the Warriors in the six-game showdown.
Green’s doubt seemingly drew a subliminal shot from James quoting lyrics from the song ‘Tuscan Leather’ by Drake in an Instagram post.
James is not shy about clapping back at his detractors and this postseason has been no different with the 20-year veteran letting the Grizzlies know their place in the hierarchy after they did plenty of talking this season.
Alex Caruso Achieves Career Milestone with Bulls
Caruso won’t be winning a title this season – the Bulls did not even make the playoffs. But he did achieve a career-first, notching his first selection to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for his efforts on the less glamorous end of the floor.
Caruso is the 14th Bulls player to earn a spot on one of the two All-Defensive teams and just the seventh to earn First Team honors, per Hispanosnba.
He is also the first Bull to earn a spot since current Heat star Jimmy Butler did it in 2015-16.