The Bulls tried to deny LeBron anything easy in the paint, making it a point to not only foul James but to do it with a bit of emphasis.
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It started with a tackle by Kirk Hinrich in the first half, then reached a boiling point for LeBron after a Taj Gibson foul (above) in the fourth quarter that resulted in a little retaliation from LeBron. He gave Carlos Boozer a hard shoulder, for which LeBron was called for a flagrant.
And it carried over after the game, too, as LeBron sounded off on the hard fouls.
“Those are not basketball plays,” James said. “And it's been happening all year and I've been able to keep my cool and tell Spo, ‘Let's not worry about it too much.' But it's getting to me a little bit, because every time I try to defend myself, I've got to face the consequences of a flagrant for me or a technical foul or whatever the case may be.”
For LeBron, it might seem a little off for him to complain about physicality because of how rough he is. But that's by default. LeBron is 6-8, 270 pounds and just overpowers people. As a result, when people want to slow him down and make sure he's not muscling through them for and-1s, they hit him hard. It's not fair, and he's correct that those aren't "basketball plays," but that's the downside of being such a monster. People have to play you harder.
But it is the officials' responsibility to police that stuff. Just because LeBron is big and strong doesn't mean he doesn't deserve the same protection a little guy gets. Because he can get hurt in just the same way. And blows to the head and grabbing at his shoulders when he's trying to elevate are dangerous plays.
So it's easy to see why LeBron had enough Wednesday.