After the dust settled from the Chicago Bulls ending the Miami Heat’s win streak last week, the focus shifted to the referees. LeBron James called out the Bulls and the refs for the amount of hard fouls he took during the game.
He focused on two in particular, one where he got tackled by Kirk Hinrich on a fast break that looked more like a safety trying to take down a running back and one towards the end of the game where he got wrapped up around the neck by Taj Gibson. LeBron said neither of those fouls were “basketball plays,” but neither was called anything more than a personal foul.
Almost a week later, the NBA did decide to upgrade a foul committed by Gibson to a flagrant, but it wasn’t the one LeBron complained about. In the first quarter of the game, James goes up for a layup and gets hit in the head. The foul actually draws praise from Jeff Van Gundy, who admires Gibson’s effort to not give LeBron an easy shot.
After a little bit of acting by LeBron (“oh I must be bleeding after such a hard hit”), the game went on as normal. Gibson didn’t think much of it until he was told by a reporter that the foul had been upgraded.
"I don't even remember what happened," Gibson said. "I just tried to make a play, and I guess it was a foul.But hey, it's going to happen. I don't remember it, but the NBA is doing their job and trying to correct things. I can't be mad at that. I'm going to have to keep pushing and moving on and get ready for the next time we play them, I guess."
Gibson took a diplomatic approach, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was a little more upset.
"I guess we have to call the league and get clarification," Thibodeau said. "I didn't see it that way. I still don't have a good understanding of what a flagrant foul is. By rule, it's unnecessary, excessive. I thought I got some clarity last year, but apparently I didn't."
Whether it was the fact that the game drew so much national attention, LeBron’s complaints or just the NBA doing their job, the foul was upgraded. It won’t mean much in the long run, just adds a little bit of fuel to the fire for anyone who doesn’t care for LeBron’s whining.