Grizzlies rush to LeBron’s defense in his decline to meet with St. Jude patient

Memphis Grizzlies veteran swingman Mike Miller joined the Miami Heat the same year LeBron James bolted Cleveland for South Beach.

FULL PLATE --- Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was heavily criticized after he reportedly declined to meet with St. Children's Research Hospital patient earlier this week. Grizzlies players Zach Randolph and Mike Miller were among those who defended James. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE Getty Images)

FULL PLATE — Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was heavily criticized after he reportedly declined to meet with a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patient earlier this week. Grizzlies players Zach Randolph and Mike Miller were among those who defended James. (Photos by Joe Murphy/NBAE Getty Images)

Among the things Miller deemed mostly intriguing about James is how he often went out of his way to give back to the community.

received_1568566373158160“He’s about as giving as I’ve ever seen,” Miller said of James.

 

Which, of course, is why Miller was among those who sensed there was more to James’ decision in declining to meet earlier this week with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patient Josh Hardy as reported by Memphis’ WREG News Channel 3.

received_1568566376491493Hardy was a recipient of St. Jude’s Make A Dream Come True. Among his wishes was to attend Wednesday night’s Heat versus Grizzlies game so he could watch James, his favorite player, in action. However, after a request by WREG through a Heat media relations representative to have James meet with Hardy, the two-time reigning league MVP reportedly declined the inquiry.

received_1568566383158159Still, Hardy was among the 18,000-plus witnesses in attendance and sat in a luxury suite to watch Memphis outlast the two-time defending champs, 107-102, and keep alive its playoff hopes.

Though Hardy didn’t get to meet James, he was given paraphernalia by the Grizzlies organization and got to meet Quincy Pondexter, his favorite player on the team.

Pondexter, the Grizzlies reserve shooting guard who is sidelined with a season-ending tarsal navicular stress fracture in his right foot he suffered in a December 7 game against Golden State, sat with Hardy during the game and gave him a basketball that was signed by his teammates.

Grizzlies All-Star power forward Zach Randolph was among the players who autographed Hardy’s basketball, although he said he wasn’t aware that James had declined to meet with the St. Jude patient until after shootaround Friday morning.

Memphis played host to the Philadelphia 76ers Friday at 7 p.m. CST.

Randolph, who in November was given NBA’s Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable efforts and contributions in the community, said James’ decision not to meet with Hardy could have been because of a conflict in his schedule. Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies was the last on back-to-back nights for the Heat, who hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Miller played three seasons with James and said he was a fixture in giving back to the community.

Miller played three seasons with James and said he was a fixture in giving back to the community.

“LeBron does a lot,” Randolph said. He probably was busy. LeBron is a great guy. You know, he does a lot for the community and for the kids. So that’s (Wednesday’s decline) nothing. He’ll probably fly the kid to meet him.”

Miller, who re-signed with the Grizzlies in July after a six-year absence, also rushed to James’ defense, saying the situation likely was a misunderstanding.

“Knowing LeBron as much as I know I him, I doubt the information even got to him,” Miller said. “He takes all of those requests.”

Asked if he believed because the Heat played on consecutive nights was a factor in James having turned down a request to meet with the patient, Miller said, “I think he would have met with him still. I think with that, it had to do with a situation where he probably didn’t get the information.”

While Randolph and Miller wouldn’t say whether they sensed the controversy surrounding James has been blown out of proportion, both agreed the 10-year veteran and four-time league MVP’s track record is such that he is committed to giving back to underprivileged individuals. “He gets those request a lot,” Miller said. Believe me, when it comes to St. Jude and children and giving back, he’s going to do that.”

That James was labeled a “punk” and “thug” by several WREG viewers was unwarranted, Miller said.

“The bottom line is no one knows anybody,” he said. “Until you get to know somebody, it’s difficult to judge them. I reserve judgment on everybody I know.”

Andre Johnson covers the NBA for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Comments

  1. Looks as if the NBA and the players are in full CYA mode. These kids are fighting the biggest battle anyone can fight. Something as simple as having your spirit crushed by a so called hero could have a major effect on a kid’s ability to fight and win the battle.

  2. i totally agree!!! this guy is a real jerk as well as 90% of pro athletes. i witness that on the news livivng in the memphis area and after hearing that he declined i immediately posted his jersey and shoes that i so stupidly paid thousands for like an idiot and posted on ebay. what a sad world!!! GOD KNOWS I COULD NEVER DO ANYONE LIKE THAT!!! ESPECIALLY A BABY!! ILL NEVER 4GET THAT! I USE TO LOVE THE HEAT AND LEBRON NOW I HATE HIM LIKE I DO JORDAN!

    • BroDizzle says:

      You all are ignorantly and unbelievably stupid. I guess anyone could tell you anything and you would believe it. Sounds like that commercial where the girl says it has to be true because you can’t put it on the internet if it isn’t true. You hear it on the news and you immediately believe it and sell everything. Plain dumb.

  3. Sweet Ham says:

    If a person you see on TV who you dont know is your “hero” then youve failed your child as a parent.

  4. He is selfish but give back to kids and communities all the time. You can’t knock him for anything you don’t know. This guy is a jerk but 90% of these pro athletes has made more world contributions then you have so start with the jerk in the mirror.

  5. rick you suck!!!! what if your child went to a game and you could afford a ticket and he or she was in arms distance to touch his hand or get an autograph and he didnt even acknowledge your kid? you guys are missing the point or one more thing! they have not contributied any thing to the world if the saw you on the street dying or in need of anything they would walk right past you all!!! i take it that you must be a child rick. and sweet ham you are missing the point about hero because children are often in awe of athletic performance not suggesting that they are idols cause they are often just selfish humans!!! and their god is their money and my GOD says its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle that a rich selfish man to enter into HEAVEN. ive never met a humble thoughtful athlete.

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