LeBron James, arguably the best player in the league, is six-foot, eight inches tall, weighs 250 pounds of pure muscle, and is one of the most aggressive players to play the game. Often seen battling down low for position and driving to the hoop, knocking others out-of-the-way, LeBron is a force in the NBA; built like a football player with the skills of an NBA-great. But do not get in his way. If King James is touched on his way to the basket and no foul is called, or anything does not go his way, he will regress to a child; a very scary 250 pound child. After last night’s 88-87 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, when James was “blocked” at the last second, the reigning MVP once again let everyone know how he felt. This was not the first time LeBron James has thrown a temper tantrum either, below are five of the worst he has had.
5. During James’ last year as a Cleveland Cavelier his team was playing against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was January 27, 2010 and towards the end of the first quarter James was charging down the court on a breakaway. He cut through two defenders, jumped around another and missed a layup; it happens. He was slapped a couple of times, but that is to be expected when running through other grown men. LeBron proceeded to complain to the ref all the way down the court and continued to jaw off at him while Minnesota was on offense, to the point that the ref issued him a technical foul. On his way to the bench, still complaining about a correct call, he smacked a tray of gatorade cups into the stands, splashing over nearby fans. James was fined $25,000 by the league for his childish outburst. It was a game in the middle of the season, Minnesota was terrible that year and Cleveland ended up winning by 14. But the King must not be touched.
4. Keeping it all in the family, this is a two-incident occasion. During James’ rookie year, the Cavaliers were facing Boston just after they established their big-three. James once more was charging down the court, was chased down by Paul Pierce who wrapped the running rookie and they both stumbled into the stands. It was a customary play by Pierce, but LeBron took offense to it, throwing an elbow while they stumbled into the crowd. Once in the stands, Gloria James (LeBron’s mother) ran over to the two and started yelling, which is an indication of where LeBron might get it from. Her son threw a fit and told his mother to, “sit your a** down!” in front of a national audience, then walked back on the court in a humph. Almost four years later, on December 18, 2013, while playing for the Miami Heat, James famously yelled at Mario Chalmers in the team’s huddle after Chalmers suggested something about the defense they were playing. That was the day Mario learned not to tell King James what to do. James jumped up in the middle of the huddle, starting yelling and had to be restrained; this was against someone who he calls his ‘brother.’ James apologized after the game, but could not keep it inside while on the court, again, over something trivial.
3. LeBron James and Joakim Noah do not like each other. This was very clear during an early December game while James was on the Cavaliers and facing the bulls. James was at the foul line, about to shoot, the entire stadium watching and he begins yelling. Who is he yelling at? Joakim Noah, who is to his left, sitting on his team’s bench. Noah yells some things back and after James hits his first free throw he walks towards the Bulls’ bench and continues to yell at Noah; instead of acting like an adult and shooting his next foul shot. LeBron eventually has to be held back as he continues to approach Noah and is issued a delay of game and technical foul. The Cavaliers were up by 18 points when this happened and there were only six minutes left in the game. It does not seem like a mature thing to do. LeBron James is a five time NBA All-Defensive team member, he has no problem getting physical with others, but if someone tries to get the worst of him, he will throw a temper tantrum like no other grown man can.
2. Last night the Miami Heat lost a playoff like game to the Brooklyn Nets. The game was competitive throughout and on the final play of the night, with only a few seconds left, LeBron attempted a two-handed dunk to put the Heat up by one, but was blocked by rookie Mason Plumlee; at least that is how the refs called it. Instead of trying to get the ball back or foul Brooklyn (since the Heat were still only down one point), King James decided to throw his hands in the air. He could not believe it was not a foul and decided to yell at the referees instead of playing through. While he did this, Brooklyn dribbled the ball around and time expired as the Heat lost the game. Moments after storming into the locker room, James came back out through the tunnel, watched the replay on the monitors in the stadium and threw a hissy-fit in front of his home fans. He stomped his feet and extended his hands forward like he was asking for more, even though the game was over, and had been for a few moments. It was a reaction a child gives when they do not get something they want; King James is 28 years old.
1. LeBron is not having a good year against the Brooklyn Nets. Earlier in the year, on January 10th, during a game at Brooklyn, the Heat found themselves down five points and James was on another breakaway down the court. After shoving away Andrei Kirilenko (who flopped pretty badly) James took two steps towards the basket and was wrapped up by Mirza Teletovic. Teletovic’s arms went around James’ neck for a moment (he was going for the shoulders), but replays show James got lower while trying to avoid the defender. Tletovic immediately let go of James and put his hands in the air; the universal sign for a mistake and meaning no offense. But the King does not like to be touched. During a crucial point of the game LeBron immediately charged at Teletovic, risking a technical foul and ejection, and had to be restrained by teammates. Teletovic, with his hands still in the air, simply smiled, in a kind of sinister way, as James threw yet another tantrum because he was touched in a way he did not like.
In a league where flopping is a daily occurrence, clear path fouls are a real thing and any slap on the wrist results in two-shots, it is not surprising that players are seen, more than ever, complaining to the refs. The days when basketball was a physical sport are gone, it is now a game of finesse and big dunks. But for the ambassador of the league, James needs to learn to grow-up. He is the best player in the league, a physically imposing person and dominates night in and night out. He is going to be a target and because he plays aggressively he is going to be hit. Nine times out of ten he gets the call his way. Though the entire league has adopted the principles of complaining about not getting fouls called for them, instead of running back on defense, the four-time MVP should be above that. Unfortunately, these five moments shows the worst of LeBron James as he too often throws temper tantrums when he should be setting an example and playing through like a man.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich
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