LeBron James has been able to both keep his temper and hold his tongue. But Monday night, after another series of aggressive attempts to wrap up James before he potentially could do damage at the rim in transition, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra voiced his displeasure. With Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith among the latest to make a play on James' shoulders, in the wake of a similar foul by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony over the weekend, Spoelstra praised his forward for being able to walk away instead of escalating the moments. "If this was the NBA of the 90s, he would have," Spoelstra said. "But he's an absolute professional for this league. He represents what you want out of this league. "But those are tough plays. If it's somebody else without the strength and power and you're going up and somebody's wrapping you up with two hands over your shoulders to keep you from going, that's a tackle, by definition." It is a subject Heat President Pat Riley addressed during last season's NBA Finals, one Riley said should result in more than a pair of free throws even when not deemed a flagrant foul. "It's happening quite a bit," Spoelstra said. "We don't officially complain about it. But those are physical plays and there's not an intent, from our view, to make a basketball play on the ball." In Spoelstra's view, James is being penalized for being able to power through such fouls. "And that's because of his strength," he said. "That doesn't mean it's easy to officiate. But when it's two hands over the top and it's a tomahawk and results in something very similar to a tackle, that seems over the top." The Heat, of course, have been here before, when Riley, then serving as coach, lamented hard fouls against then-Heat center Shaquille O'Neal. "They're tough. And Shaq probably could have, dozens of times, exploded and turned that into something much more," Spoelstra said. "But the patience that they show is incredible, particularly when you know that play is coming.
Spoelstra comes out strong on hard fouls on LeBron
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Feb 5