The NBA playoffs are still months away, but LeBron James already is conditioning league officials for what will surely be a consistent theme throughout the postseason — when in doubt, hammer James with a hard foul.
It’s rare that James screams at someone on the basketball court not named Mario Chalmers, so when James went after Mirza Teletovic of the Nets on Friday night following a foul in the open court, officials reacted by hitting Teletovic with a flagrant foul. It was Teletovic’s first flagrant of the season, and the foul came moments after James actually committed an offensive foul on Andrei Kirilenko.
Teletovic’s foul didn’t appear to be overtly aggressive, but James complained during and after the game that the Nets’ big man got a little too physical.
“He went around the neck, that was my take,” James said. “That was not a basketball play.”
Teletovic went high around James’ neck, yes, but it appeared on replay that Teletovic was only trying to prevent James from completing a three-point play. Teletovic didn’t grab James, but James took exception and lunged at Teletovic following the play. Michael Beasley and others restrained James while Nets players rushed in to hold back Teletovic, who reacted to the sequence by flashing a smile.
“Not a basketball play” was James’ constant complaint during the 2013 playoffs, especially during the series against the Chicago Bulls. Bulls center Nazr Mohammed was ejected during Game 3 for shoving James to the ground during a fast break.
For years, the postseason scouting report on James has called for opponents to rough up the MVP in the hopes of knocking him off his game.
Although hard fouls are nothing new for James, Teletovic defended himself after the game and then had a little fun with the incident on Twitter.
“It was just a foul,” Teletovic said. “I just tried to make a foul, and he was coming down the court. He shouldn’t be reacting like that. It’s just basketball.”
Teletovic then did something he might come to regret. The European needled James on Twitter when he posted a screen shot of the scuffle and wrote, “Five in a rowGo @BrooklynNets :) lol ;)” Teletovic then changed the background of his Twitter page to a large picture of the incident.
James wrote a touching and inspirational tribute to his mother, Gloria James, recently for NBC’s Today show. His essay can be found on the show’s website, today.com, and is part of an initiative by journalist Maria Shriver called #DoingItAll, which highlights single mothers begins on Monday.
Two excerpts from James’ essay:
“People always say I am devoted to my mother. That’s true, but only because for every minute of my life, she has been devoted to me. My mother taught me what devotion truly means. I have tried to pass along her example by helping kids who are growing up in single-parent homes through the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“The truth is that everything I’ve learned about being a parent to my boys — 9-year-old LeBron Jr. and 6-year-old Bryce — I learned from my mother. Everything I know about being loving and caring, and sacrificing and showing up and being present in my children’s lives — I learned all of that from her example.
“Gloria James was a working single mother who struggled and got the job done.
And for that, I say, ‘I love you, Mom. Thank you.’ ”
Dwyane Wade threw an early 32nd birthday party for himself Saturday night on an enormous yacht covered in decals and made to resemble one of his flashy basketball shoes. Teammates attended the party and had the day off Sunday. Wade’s birthday is Jan. 17 and coincides with an away game in Philadelphia.