Greg Cote

LeBron’s flop, Draymond’s kick compete for outlandishness of NBA follies

LeBron James took an apparent elbow to the chin against Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals and recoiled as if shot with a musket, staggering three or four steps backward before falling onto his backside.
LeBron James took an apparent elbow to the chin against Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals and recoiled as if shot with a musket, staggering three or four steps backward before falling onto his backside. AP

These are the dog days for pro sports in South Florida:

When the Heat and Panthers both have exited the playoffs too soon.

When we cannot even fake excitement over a Dolphins’ May practice.

And when, after the tease of a hot streak, the Marlins have sunk back to mediocrity thanks in part to Giancarlo Stanton being on pace to strike out 700 times. (OK it’s actually a projected 234 Ks, which would break the MLB single-season record).

It is times like these we welcome a diversion, something, anything to wake us from our droning somnambulance.

So thank you, NBA follies.

Thank you, especially, LeBron James and Draymond Green.

You have reminded us, with your delightfully preposterous Game 3 actions gone viral on the Internet, why America coalesces to cheer for the other team, not LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers or Green’s Golden State Warriors.

I have watched replays of each performance a dozen times and still cannot decide which was more comically outrageous:

James with one of the greatest flops of all time.

Or Green with one of the dirtiest kicks in recorded history.

LeBron took an apparent elbow to the chin against Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals and recoiled as if shot with a musket, staggering three or four steps backward before falling onto his backside. Treat yourself. Watch it in slow motion for the full effect.

The Raptors’ DeMarre Carroll was given a technical foul for the Saturday night elbow — a call quickly overturned when the referees realized upon review that James’ own teammate, Tristan Thompson, had made the contact.

If only LeBron had known. You don’t unnecessarily waste a flop that epic.

“I’m not trying to sell a call,” James said afterward as the entire country brayed laughter in unison.

One night later, Sunday, came Dirty Draymond with the play that made any man who watched it wince reflexively.

Green was descending after being fouled in midair by Oklahoma City’s Steve Adams, and suddenly lifted his right leg point-blank into Adams’ groin — fair, to say, a man’s most sensitive area?

Green was a given a flagrant-1 foul, but on Monday the NBA upgraded the foul to a flagrant 2 and fined him $25,000 but decided not to suspend him for Game 4.

It’s hard to watch the replay without seeing it as clearly intentional. Green lifts his right leg while descending. Do you know how difficult that is? He looked like a 235-pound Rockette attempting a scissoring leg kick that happened to be interrupted by Adam’s groin.

James and Green make the perfect villains for these series — James on general principle, and Green because he’s dirty and because we’re getting a little tired of cocky Stephen Curry to the degree we’re rooting for cocky Russell Westbrook instead.

Cleveland and Golden State were heavy series favorites going in, but LeBron’s Cavs led only 2-1 entering Monday night’s game in Toronto, and Oklahoma City leads defending champion Golden State 2-1 entering Tuesday night’s game in OKC.

For Miami, at least, the next best thing now to cheering for the Heat in the playoffs is cheering for LeBron James to fall out of them, and that’s even when he isn’t flopping in the kind of exaggerated dive normally seen only in the penalty area during international soccer matches.

Between the video of LeBron’s Dive and the one of Draymond’s Kick, it was a weekend that reminded us why the Internet was invented in the first place.

Cue the Crying Michael Jordan meme for both plays, although those would be tears of incredulous laughter this time.

Read Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote

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