That was a pretty minor play in this game — in the fourth quarter the Heat were on a fast break and, as they have done all series long, the Bulls tried to go with the “Euro foul” out at midcourt before the play developed to break it up.
Except, nothing is minor when Nate Robinson and LeBron James are involved.
Robinson made the foul and in doing so his hand slid up and caught LeBron James in the face. LeBron’s head snapped back. The refs called the foul a flagrant one to review it.
And on twitter, it was on — there was a large “look at LeBron flop again” contingent. LeBron’s reaction seemed exaggerated to the relatively minor contact. The people who don’t like LeBron are always lurking just beneath the surface online and this series — where Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau accused LeBron of flopping on the Nazr Mohammed shove — brought them out like cicadas. Complete with all the chirping.
They said LeBron embellished that contact. They went to the flop card.
Yes, LeBron’s head snapped back. What is your instinctive reaction when somebody hits you in the face? You pull your head back. Decide for yourself how exaggerated it was.
In the end, the refs got this right; they changed the call to a common foul. Which it was. There was no intent to injure, no intent to go to the face, and LeBron’s reaction was not out of line. It was a playoff foul and play. Everybody play on.
Of course, it never goes quite like that on twitter.
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).