The NBA levied a $20,000 fine on Charlotte Bobcat forward Josh McRoberts for his elbow to the throat of the Miami Heat’s Lebron James during late in the fourth quarter of the Bobcats game two series loss. As James drove with his left hand from beyond the top of the key he met McRoberts in the paint. McRoberts met him with his right elbow pointed at James’ throat and failed to make a play on the ball. See the action below.
Many observers predicted a suspension for McRoberts after the hit on James. The officials called a foul on the play, but only a regular foul and not a flagrant. After reviewing the game tape, NBA officials levied the fine and upgraded the foul to a Flagrant 2. After the play, James was forced to spend a couple minutes on his hands and knees to collect himself.
James presents a challenge for the NBA refs. He is one of the largest and often fastest players on the court. He frequently drives to the hoop and many of the players trying to stop him are not as big and strong. While McRoberts is an inch or two taller than James, he is likely 30 pounds or more lighter and was not moving as fast as James on the play. James’ combination of size and speed creates a great deal of momentum and force. More slightly built players such as McRoberts often try to get in the way of James and protect themselves at the same time. In this instance, McRoberts went beyond protecting himself to mete out some punishment on James.
The Bobcats have been game competitors in the series, just falling short in both games, although no one watching really felt the Heat were truly threatened. No doubt Bird Man or one of the other Heat bigs will stand up for James and show the Heat’s distaste for the hit. James must be protected at all costs by the Heat. In playoff basketball, hits do not go unpunished. Although the NBA fined Josh McRoberts for the elbow to LeBron James, the Charlotte Bobcats forward will likely need to count his teeth when he is slammed by a Heat player in game three.
McRoberts has enjoyed something of a career renaissance with the Bobcats. As a journeyman player, he has made his way around the league with his last previous stop being the Orlando Magic. The Orlando team had little use for McRoberts on a rebuilding squad trying to give experience to younger players. On the Bobcats he has enjoyed career highs in minutes played and points scored, averaging over 30 minutes played per game during his tenure and 8.7 points.
While NBA playoff basketball is more rough and tumble than the regular season, hard hits in the head and neck area will always be punished. The league punishes the player and the opposing team does as well. In this instance, the NBA fined Charlotte Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts for his elbow to Lebron James’ neck, now the Charlotte forward awaits his punishment by the Heat.
Commentary by William Costolo