HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — LeBron James, a whiner?
The man wins 27 consecutive games to propel the Miami Heat to the second-longest streak in NBA history, he finally losses for the first time since the Super Bowl and everyone jumps on the game’s most dominating force for complaining that refs should have been more liberal in calling the Chicago Bulls for flagrant fouls?
Right because in the NBA, no one does that.
Here’s a refresher as to what LeBron said after the Heat’s streak-ending, 101-97 defeat in Chicago:
“Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say [what I want to say],” James said after the game. “I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays. First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive … those are not basketball plays.
“I’m not sitting here crying about anything,” said James. “I play the game at a high level, I play with a lot of aggression, I understand that some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not. But sometimes, you know? I don’t know … it’s frustrating.”
For some reason, perhaps boredom, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge provided his two cents on LeBron’s ref rant, calling it “embarrassing.”
“I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said on WEEI Radio on Thursday. “I think the one involving LeBron against [Carlos] Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right. “I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”
We’re kind of wondering how Ainge might describe his team’s recent choke job on their home floor against the Heat and the losing skid that ensued.
At least Bulls forward Taj Gibson was an active participant in the actual game. He, too, went on the radio to express dismay that a frustrated LeBron would question the officiating.
Gibson’s response on ESPN 1000 in Chicago:
“I think he’s too good of a player to do that [complain]. You just play, two teams really going out there and play hard, going to the basket extremely hard and physical. … I didn’t try to collar him. I just fouled him. It wasn’t intentionally. I just tried to make a play on the ball, but I fouled him. When he fell, it looked like I collared him. I was really trying to grab him, just not hold him up. Nobody was intentionally trying to hurt anybody out there. When he said those comments, I was really shocked. But it’s part of the game, I guess.”
Shocking is the unnecessary negative jabs generated by LeBron’s comments after an intense and meaningful game which followed nearly two months of blowout wins, amazing performances and remarkable comebacks. And the Heat did this the last couple of weeks while being trailed by a national media horde.
Amazing the tiny cracks that opportunists will squirm through to get in their shots. During Miami’s 27-game win streak, LeBron averaged 27.0 ppg, 8.0 apg and 8.1 rpg. He shot 57.5 percent overall and 37.4 percent from 3-point range. He had 50 steals and 25 blocks, and was a whopping plus-344 — say that last one again, plus-344.
So thank you, Mr. Ainge and you too, Mr. Gibson, for your concern over LeBron’s foul frustrations, warranted or not.
Ainge might want to implore his battered club to stay out of that eight-hole or watch LeBron complain his way to a methodical sweep of his Celtics. As for Gibson, far more shocking than LeBron’s comments are his mostly stagnant season statistics — 7.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 68.7 percent from the free throw line — with that nice, little pay raise kicking in next season, and over the next four.
Then again, haters apparently will hate.