By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
CLEVELAND, April 21 -- Was it a hard foul worthy of a trip to the free throw line or a flagrant foul worthy of an ejection and possible suspension?
That was the question swirling around both locker rooms after Cleveland's 116-86 victory over the Wizards in Game 2 on Monday night. In the third quarter, with the Cavaliers ahead by 15 points, LeBron James dribbled down the lane, took off and was fouled hard by Wizards center Brendan Haywood.
James went sprawling and Haywood was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. He could be suspended. He was gone from the locker room when it opened for media members after the game and thus couldn't speak about the play but some of his teammates did not feel that the foul warranted a flagrant 2.
"Obviously, emotions are high because of what happened in Game 1," Antonio Daniels said. "LeBron took off and Brendan obviously didn't want him to finish it. . . . No one in this locker room or in that locker room fouls anybody with the intention of hurting anybody. That's not the way the NBA is, that's not how it's played. But, we all get knocked to the floor. That's playoff basketball. When you drive, you should expect to be hit."
Cleveland Coach Mike Brown, who charged onto the court when the Haywood foul happened, doesn't see it that way. When he met with reporters Sunday, he campaigned for the referees to be more aware of how James was being fouled.
"The officiating was good," Brown said after Game 2. "I've said it time and time again; we know that this series is going to be physical. Washington has come out and said, hey, they're going to hit LeBron, they're going to hit LeBron, they're going to hit LeBron. You can't have grown men saying: 'I'm going to go hit somebody.' If that's the case, the NBA, the officials, cannot allow anything to get out of hand and they have to keep control over the game on both sides."
Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan disputed the notion that his team is out to rough up James. Many of his own players have been on the receiving end of hard fouls. Andray Blatche was elbowed in the face by James in Game 1 and knocked on the head by Anderson Varejao on a drive Monday night.
"Officials shouldn't be swayed by what we say," Jordan said. "Officials shouldn't be swayed by what happened the last game. We said, first of all, we want to stay in front of James, so he wouldn't get to the rim. It's hard to take a charge on LeBron and we said that if we can't get a shot block on him, we have to send him to the line. I don't think there is anything wrong with that and I don't think the officials should be swayed by it."
Asked for his feelings on the Haywood foul, Jordan said: "It's an official's call and I will leave it at that."