When LeBron James complains about fouls, it’s not about his size, as he would gladly have you believe. Neither is it about there being a presumed double-standard from imposing basketball specimens like himself and Dwight Howard. Sure, there are reasons to take notice, but let’s be honest, it’s about politicking through the gladly willing media.
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra after Wednesday night’s game versus the Wizards:
“He absorbs a lot more contact than people realize. He’s big and tough enough that he shrugs it off. But you go in there and see him in the locker room, and he’s got ice on pretty much every part of his body.”
So do 5’11″ guards who live in the lane. So do a lot of NBA players. It’s a tough game. And when someone like LeBron, who has the sixth highest usage rate in the NBA at 31.4-percent, gladly uses his abnormal physique to gain an advantage, it certainly is going to feel like he’s being handled more physically, at least to him. But it’s all relative.
It’s hard not to take whining for what it is, whining, but LeBron is doing more. He (and Spolestra) are preparing for the playoffs. He’s peppering the subconscious of referees and league officials. He’s doing the same thing superstars who feel entitled have been doing for years. LeBron and Spolestra want whistles in their favor, simple as that. It’s no different from the incites of Phil Jackson every season, except Jackson can be funny.
It’s not about Mo Evans and the Washington Wizards, as LeBron would have you believe from his post-game quote last Wednesday:
“I don’t know if Mo Evans intentionally wants to be dirty. I watch a lot of basketball. I see a lot of basketball every day, and anytime when someone gets grabbed around the neck, it’s an automatic flagrant-1. If I’m wrong, tell me I’m wrong. Sometimes it’s unfair, because of how strong I am, you know. I can take the punishment of course, but at the same time, I think it’s unfair sometimes.”
LeBron watches a lot of basketball. He knows what the NBA is becoming — overly-sensitive to hard, acceptable fouls from the good ol’ days — and he wants to take advantage of the changing environment. He wants to further propel the league into the age of softness. Because when you are as big and imposing as he is, rigging the system to tip-toe around the physicality of the defense works to your advantage.
NBA players used to be allowed to do smart things. Like when LeBron tucks the ball into his side like Jerome Bettis and charges with reckless abandon toward the basket, the smart move is to foul him. Nothing easy, but nothing dirty. Wrap him up around the shoulders to make sure he goes to the free-throw line without getting a shot off. Don’t undercut anyone in a vulnerable position.
This is exactly what Evans attempted to do on the play in question, a LeBron run-away train fast-break. As the picture below clearly indicates, Evans tried to wrap-up James around the shoulders. Yet LeBron is whining about his neck, his back, and all areas in between.
And almost surprisingly, the referee called just a regular old foul. Poor LeBron. At least Dwyane Wade came to the defense of his neck.
James proceeded to get a technical foul called on him (Jordan Crawford made it), and missed both free-throws, prompting a free Chik-Fil-A sandwich to all those in attendance at the Verizon Center. No lies, not from the ball, not from the boos of the fans after LeBron missed the first from the charity stripe, putting a chicken sandwich in the balance.
But before you think, ‘You’re just some biased Wizards blogger,’ what do you think Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald is doing when he writes a column called, “Strength can be a detriment to Miami Heat’s LeBron James“? He’s slurping off the talents brought to South Beach. No biggie, we all are what we are.
LeBron is no more than a politician looking out for self-interest. And are you really going to believe what he says/whines about anyway? Not likely. No need to listen. The King has big shoulders, maybe he should worry about carrying his court on them instead of complaining about his neck.