LeBron James is a freight train when he’s going to the basket. Because he’s one of the hardest players to stop, opponents tend to foul him harder than they would another player. Sometimes, those fouls become more than a common basketball play and more of a dirty maneuver to stop James in his tracks.
On Sunday night, LeBron was kicked in the groin by James Harden after both were going after the basketball. Harden was assessed a flagrant foul I, and was ultimately suspended following a review by the league. LeBron had this to say following the game:
“That’s not a basketball play and the league will probably take a look at it,” James said. “I have no idea why he would do that.”
Here’s the play from Sunday afternoon’s game:
In Wednesday night’s game, James was fouled hard again by Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas received a flagrant foul I as well, but likely won’t face a suspension.
Here’s the play from Wednesday night’s game:
“Maybe I got to protect myself a little bit more, too,” James said following the game. I don’t want to get too much involved in it because I don’t want to cry about it because it’s not like I’m not able to get back up, but it’s a lot of plays that are just not basketball plays.”
James said the referees did a good job to control the situation and make things right.
“And I’ve said it before, it’s just not basketball plays. But the referees, they take care of it. They decide what [type of foul] it is or not. That’s what we got rules for. And for me, I need to maintain my focus and understand how important the game is, but at the same time, protect myself as well.”
Head Coach David Blatt also chimed in, praising the referees for getting it right.
“I thought tonight the refs, well, they reviewed it so there wasn’t much choice, but they addressed that foul properly,” Blatt said. “I’m not sure all of the fouls that he sustains are necessarily addressed properly.”
In his nine months with the Cavaliers and eight with LeBron James, Blatt knows exactly how people play James and what goes on during games:
“I don’t think it’s something new,” Blatt said. “I think that’s something that’s been going on for years. And because LeBron is so powerful and so aggressive and so strong, a lot of stuff happens to him that goes either unnoticed or unaddressed. And then there’s things that happen that seem to take on less of an impact because it’s LeBron James: the powerful, strong, attacking player that he is.”
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Newest addition Kendrick Perkins wasn’t shy when asked about the hard foul by Valanciunas, something Perkins himself has been notorious for at times in his career:
“It’s a difference between a hard foul and a dirty play. Obviously that was a dirty play. He was just going to the basket, you wrap him around the neck. That’s just … . We ain’t got time for that type of s—, man. They say they’re trying to deliver a message, but somebody could really get hurt. You know what I’m saying? I think it was the right call, a flagrant 1, but we just don’t have time for that type of s—. That ain’t cool.”
Also, when asked if retaliation could be a proper response to the hard fouls, Perkins spoke like the the Kendrick Perkins we’ve come to know over the past couple of seasons.
“There’s time and places that you can get one off. I feel like you just have to make sure it’s the right time. But at the end of the day, you’re just trying to go out there and play basketball. It’s a physical game, and obviously he was trying to send a message because he’d been getting beat out there on the pick-and-roll. And it happens. But it’s just bulls—. That ain’t cool.”
Maybe the addition of Perkins is just what the doctor ordered for the Cavs, who could definitely use that added toughness from the veteran center.