Early in the third quarter of the Bulls’ Game 3 win over the Cavaliers, LeBron James drove and threw down a thunderous dunk over Joakim Noah, and appeared to have some words for him immediately following the spectacular play.
Noah responded, of course, and the two each received a technical foul for their actions.
But when the game was over, James said that Noah crossed the line.
“As a competitor, I love his emotion,” James said. “But I think the words that he used to me were just a little bit, you know, a little bit too far. I’m a father with three kids, and it got very disrespectful.
“I’m OK with competing against Jo. I love the competitive nature in him. But we should leave it there. The disrespectful words that he said to me were uncalled for.”
Noah didn’t see it the same way.
“Disrespectful? I got mad respect for LeBron,” he said postgame, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We’re just two players trying to win a game. That’s all.”
If I’m Noah, and I know that I can get LeBron thinking about what I’m saying during the game, I crank the trash talk up to 11 in Game 4. Any distraction might help, and in a series that might end up being decided by insane plays at the buzzer, every advantage counts.