Here's a neat little fact that some folks (especially those from Cleveland) don't seem to understand: LeBron James is just another basketball player in the eyes of the officials.
For the second time this season, a last-second call against LeBron affected the outcome of a game against one of my favorite NBA teams. Both times, someone affiliated with the Cavs went on a stupid, immature tirade about how this shouldn't be called or that shouldn't be called.
Against the Wizards earlier in the season, we had the famous "crab dribble", which was a patented NBA travel that an official actually decided to call. Sure, it was inconsistent with the lack of travels called in the rest of the Association, but if you count the steps, it fits the definition of a travel. LeBron's reaction: It was a "crab dribble", something he does all the time and has never been called, and why would anyone call him for a travel when he's the face of the NBA?
Fast-forward to last night. First, there's a foul called against the Pacers' Danny Granger that was extremely questionable. Granger jumped in front of LeBron, poked the ball away, but also hit LeBron's arm. Result of the play: foul, two made freebies for LeBron. About half a second later, LeBron got called for the exact same foul on an inbound to Granger. He jumped for the ball and backed into Granger as the ball came in. Result of the play: foul, one made free throw, Pacers win. Cavs' coach Mike Brown's reaction:
"I went back and I watched the last two plays and that last call on LeBron was the worst call I've ever been a part of. I cannot imagine another worse call than that by that official. It was an awful call and for him to take away a basketball game from a team with 0.4 seconds on the clock is irresponsible. That is an irresponsible call. It was predetermined from the call that was made on the other end of the floor and it was very unfortunate because there were a lot of men out on the floor that were working their (expletive) off to try to win the ball game. We got that game taken away from us on a horse...excuse my French...horsecrap call with 0.2 seconds left on the clock by that official. Absolutely horrible. I feel bad for the guys in the locker room. You can not...you can not...you can not predetermine a call to try to make something up for the other end of the floor. I saw it. It was a foul down there with 0.4 second. Down here, it was not. LeBron was in between his man and the basket. He went up in the air when the ball was tipped. And for that official to predetermine his call was awful. It was awful. That why we lost the game. I never blame the officials. But that call was a predetermined call and he should have swallowed his whistle on it. But he did not. It was a make up call. Make up. It was a foul. LeBron went up into the air. Danny jumped into him. It's a foul. For him to predetermine the call at our end of the floor...the ball had no chance of getting to Danny Granger. None whatsoever. None. It's two guys jumping into the air. And for him to predetermine that call at that point in the game was horsecrap. That was awful...to step in and use your whistle in that instance and have the power to determine the outcome of the basketball game at that time when it was no where near a foul. It should have been a no call. It's a no call. You have two men jumping straight up in the air on a bad pass. We played OK. We played well enough to give ourselves an opportunity. I don't know what would have happened in overtime. It wasn't like we were playing great. But that game should have gone into overtime until the official stepped in and made a call that was predetermined from the other end of the floor. I don't care if I get fined. It is what it is. I saw the two plays. It was a bad call. He determined the outcome of the game. If they want to fine me for telling the truth, they can fine me for telling the truth. This is not me. I never do this. If I didn't see what I saw on the tape and live, I wouldn't say anything. I'd swallow it. I'd tell our guys, 'Hey we didn't play well enough.' We didn't play particularly well. But that was a bad call that was predetermined that determined the outcome of the game. Simple as that. They can fine me for this crap. I don't care."
Pacers coach Jim O'Brien got it right, though. He said that both calls were "consistent". Indeed, Granger was called for a foul that no one liked, and LeBron was called for the exact same foul at the other end. Mike Brown and the entire Cavaliers organization and fan base needs to realize that, while LeBron is indeed the face of the league, he is not immune from foul calls. LeBron committed a foul on an inbound pass to decide the game, and he was rightly called for it.
GET OVER IT!