Rivers understands LeBron-mania

Updated: May 18, 2010, 11:55 AM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When it comes to all the hoopla surrounding LeBron James' impending free agency, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers understands the hype.

But the NBA lifer doesn't believe LeBron-mania has overshadowed the playoffs. Rivers actually thinks the constant attention about the Cleveland Cavaliers star is good for the game. He compared the situation to what fans might have felt if Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan had ever hit the open market at such a young age.

"I just think it's added to [the excitement of the postseason]," Rivers said before the Celtics practice on Monday afternoon. "I do think we forget that LeBron's 25. Hell, I forgot. When I heard someone say that on the radio or TV, he was just 25, I was like 'Geez, this guy is just 25?'

"But I don't think it's overshadowing. I just think there's more of it. That means you're talking about the league more. I don't think that's ever bad to be talking about it."

Boston took a 1-0 series lead over the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals with a win Sunday.

"It is a big story," Rivers said of James. "That guy is a franchise changer. And if he decides to leave, it's going to change two franchises. If he decides to stay, it changes one or it continues one, so it's a huge story.

"It's the biggest story that I can remember since I've been in the league, quite honestly. It would be like if Michael Jordan had become a free agent and decided that he was going to leave. That story would have been just as crazy, so it deserves what it gets."

Celtics guard Ray Allen isn't surprised by the hoopla.

"I expected a lot of the talk to be about his future," Allen said. "Obviously, there was so much talk going into it, it's a big story.

"You talk about free agency any summer, you talk about your key players, and he's at the head of the class. It's a big story. But we're here and this is what we're talking about now."

Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace spoke for a few other teammates when the topic of James' free agency came up.

"I don't care," he said. "It don't matter to me. That's [the media]. That's ya'll sitting up there talking about him and printing in the paper. I don't care. The less of ya'll there is around me the happier I am. So ya'll can keep going, talking about that LeBron stuff."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.