Foul, Hard Foul Or LeBron Foul?
LeBron James shot 14 free throws on Saturday, three fewer than the entire Washington Wizards team, but Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown believes that his superstar should be going to the line more. After the Cavaliers won 93-86, Brown talked about the "pounding" that James had to take.
He emphasized the word "pounding" by slamming his fist and shaking the table. Brown banged on the table so much, you thought he was going to go all Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations and start slamming his shoe next.
Brown didn't let up on Sunday afternoon as he continued to challenge the officials to look more closely at James's drives to the basket - and the call the fouls (Of course, Brown probably doesn't want the officials to watch James's feet on those same drives, but oh well). He said referees too often ignore it when James gets slapped because he's just too big.
"LeBron is so strong, quick and athletic that when he drives, he gets hit all the time," Brown said. "That's something you hope the officials take a look at it. Teams like Washington are saying that they'll foul him. Don't wait and let it be a real, real hard foul and it gets out of hand and you have a scuffle on your hands. Make it a clean game."
"If he gets bumped, call it a foul," Brown said. "Don't call a bump or something else on Gilbert [Arenas] or somebody else, just because they're smaller but disregard it with LeBron because it doesn't dislodge him. Unless he gets absolutely clobbered, they are not going to call it."
The difficulty for officials is that a light tap on the wrist or elbow won't do anything to disrupt James's path to the basket. He really is strong enough to take a shove and keep charging toward the basket. You know the old saying, no harm, no foul. Brown went on to compare James to Shaquille O'Neal in that they are both big guys who take a physical beating each game. Aside from the times Cleveland plays O'Neal, Brown said, he feels "sorry for Shaq."
James said he is built for the physical contact, but added that "it's a difference between a foul, a hard foul and you know LeBron James is coming to the basket and you just hammer him."
"I think we can all notice that now," he said. "If that's what their game plan is, I have to continue to get back up."
Cavaliers forward Ben Wallace, a physical specimen who has handed out a hard foul or two in his career, finally brought some perspective to the complaints. Asked if there is a such thing as a LeBron foul and a regular foul, Wallace scoffed.
"A LeBron foul?" Wallace said. "A foul is when the ref blows the whistle. If the ref don't blow the whistle, it ain't a foul."
It will be interesting to see how the game is called. The Wizards didn't take many free throws because they refused to attack the rim.
James Growing - And Shrinking?
James loves to mention that he is 6-feet-9, 260 pounds, although he is still listed at 6-8, 240. After the game on Satuday, James said that he is still growing, which is probably contributing to his back troubles.
You probably didn't notice, but for the early part of the fourth quarter, James had his back stretched out by assistant athletic trainer Mike Mancias. He also hasn't practiced in several weeks so that he can have all of his energy for the game.
Yesterday, James had some fun with the media on Sunday when he asked about his size. Is he really 6-9, 260? "Naw, just last night," James said. "Last night, I felt real strong and overweight. I came down to my regular size today. I'm about 6-4, 215."
The James-Haywood Run-In
Mike Brown on the Haywood-James altercation: "There was a foul, I thought, on Brendan. I don't know what Brendan was thinking or whatever. I just saw Brendan standing over him, in my opinion, too long. He doesn't have to pick LeBron up, but keep on going about what you're doing. Don't stand there and conversate with a referee over a guy like that. That's not right for anybody to do. And it could cause tempers to flare. It might not have been malicious, but he shouldn't have stood over him that long."
You probably remember the elbow James delivered to Andray Blatche's face in the first half, shortly after Blatche busted him the mouth on a drive. It went basically unnoticed in these parts, but someone asked James about it on Sunday: "It wasn't intentional. Me being one of the best drivers and creaters and and-one playmakers in the game, I was definitely trying to get the and-one and I just got him on the chin. I know he felt it, but it wasn't anything intentional."
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