By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Wizards center Brendan Haywood apologized through reporters yesterday to Cavaliers forward LeBron James for his hard foul on James in the third quarter of Game 2 Monday night. Haywood was assessed a flagrant-2 foul and ejected from the game after the play.
There was some speculation that Haywood would be suspended for the foul, but Stu Jackson, who handles disciplinary action and assesses fines for the NBA, elected not to further punish Haywood after reviewing the play yesterday.
"Nothing was meant behind the foul," said Haywood, who got into an altercation with James in Game 1 when they got tangled near midcourt. "It was a bang-bang play and he said himself: He's 6-9, 260, so if you go out there and try to foul him lightly, he's going to score the basketball. So there was nothing malicious. I apologize to LeBron James. I didn't mean to hurt him. It's not one of those things."
That was just one of the hard fouls delivered during the first two games. In Game 1, James was hit in the face by Andray Blatche, who appeared to be going for a block. Later, James repaid the favor by throwing an elbow -- James insisted that it was inadvertent -- to Blatche's face.
Also in Game 2, Cleveland's Anderson Varejao hit Blatche in the face as Blatche drove to the basket, Ben Wallace delivered a hard but clean foul on Caron Butler and Delonte West knocked Antonio Daniels to the floor as Daniels drove to the basket.
"Truthfully, I thought Varejao's foul on Andray was far worse," Haywood said. "He made no effort to go for the ball, just came down on him like [wrestling legend] Nikita Koloff. So it was one of those things where the play has been physical but nothing has gone over the top and we should keep playing the way we've been playing. But the way the league rules are and the way the league is viewing things, I think both teams have to scale some things back or you're going to see some more ejections and some fines."
Part of the problem, from the Wizards' perspective, is that Cleveland Coach Mike Brown has made a point of complaining about the physical play to reporters and has come onto the court to plead his case several times when James has been fouled.
"Every time LeBron gets fouled, Mike comes running out there like he got shot or something," Haywood said. "Calm down, Mike. It's not that serious. We're not trying to take him out. It's all within the confines of the game. I don't see how coaches should be running out on the court anyway. Isn't there a coaches' box? Since we're talking about the confines of league rules, he shouldn't be out of the box."