LeBron, the world’s best player in the same way that the sun is the biggest thing in the solar system, stirred up some controversy earlier in the week by saying that he’s not opposed to flopping. (At the same time, he insisted that he himself is not a flopper.)
Of course, he’s right: yeah, flopping is annoying to watch, and not the most above-board tactic ever practiced, but players have an obligation to do whatever they can to win — that’s what they’re being paid pornographic amounts of money to do.
But LeBron also ended up putting his body where his mouth is with this particular instance of acting. He pops off David West like a startled cat, throwing himself to the ground belly-first. West, for his part, tries to match his enthusiasm. And for their part, the refs — who did not have a great game overall — recognized the gamesmanship and swallowed their whistles on this particular play.
Don’t worry: those whistles came back up soon after.
With a minute left, LeBron fouled out of a playoff game for only the second time in his career on this “illegal screen.” Was the play a foul? Eh — maybe, technically, yes; he isn’t set and he does clip Lance Stephenson slightly. But you can see by the way that Stephenson shakes it off and keeps moving around LeBron that he didn’t think anything of it; this type of entanglement happens dozens of times in an NBA game. The fact that LeBron was called for it as his sixth foul in the last minute of a playoff game speaks to one of two things: either the refs felt like exerting their power a little bit, or LeBron was being karmically punished by the Gods of Basketball, a dozen bearded, obscenely tall titans who preside over the sport and pull strings to ensure justice and destiny are always fulfilled.
Not that I believe in the Gods of Basketball, or anything. Definitely not. Speaking of which, here is a picture of the Gods of Basketball.