2014 NBA playoffs: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats

James might come up swinging after McRoberts foul a generation ago

Game 3: Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN, SPSO)

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comApril 25, 2014 

Were this an earlier era of NBA basketball, Miami Heat star LeBron James might have gotten into a brawl late in Game 2 after Josh McRoberts’ hard foul.

“If it was the ’80s, I’d come up swinging, but it’s not the ’80s,” James told a group of South Florida media following practice Friday. “I mean too much to our team and I can’t do that.”

McRoberts, the Charlotte Bobcats forward, took a hard foul on James’ drive with 50 seconds left. Replays indicate McRoberts’ right forearm or elbow struck James in the neck. After the play James laid on the floor for several seconds, later saying he was catching his breath.

The play was initially called a common foul, but Thursday the league upgraded that to a Flagrant 2 – the more severe of two flagrant designations – and fined McRoberts $20,000. The NBA chose not to suspend McRoberts.

Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said Friday he never worried McRoberts would be suspended because the foul was not “malicious.” McRoberts said he didn’t agree with the upgraded penalties.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra questioned after Game 2 why McRoberts’ foul wasn’t flagrant. In discussing the NBA’s decision Thursday, Spoelstra suggested the league has allowed too many hard fouls on James to go under-punished this season.

“(If) they have to be excessive with (fouling), that should be penalized excessively,” Spoelstra said, adding James could have been hurt worse considering the force with which McRoberts hit him.

“Is it easy to officiate a player like LeBron or (Blake) Griffin or Dwight Howard? No,” Spoelstra said. “But we’ve been down this road enough times this season that we just want there to be an overall better awareness for that because he is going to attack” the rim.

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