Kirk Hinrich wrapped both arms around him and pulled LeBron James to the ground. Taj Gibson clubbed James in the head. Later Gibson grabbed James by the neck to prevent a layup.
It seemed the only way to stop James on Wednesday in Chicago was with a little violence. For James, that's unwanted news as the playoffs approach. The reigning and most likely future MVP will be on the receiving end of a lot more abuse when the postseason begins.
"Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say it," James said. "I believe, and I know, that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays.
"First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground and the last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around the shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not basketball plays and it has been happening all year and I've been able to keep my cool and tell Spo let's not worry about it too much but it is getting to me a little bit," James said.
After being fouled multiple times at United Center with what he called non-basketball plays, James boiled over and took his frustration out on Carlos Boozer. James extended his elbow and shoulder against Boozer during a screen—clearly a non-basketball play—and was whistled for a technical foul. Boozer made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Bulls a nine-point lead.
After the game, James vented about the hard fouls.
"Every time I try to defend myself, I got to face the consequences of a flagrant or a technical," James said. "So, it's tough. It's very tough. And I'm not sitting here crying about anything. I play the game at a high level and with a lot of aggression and I understand that a lot of plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but sometimes you just got to ... I don't know. It's frustrating."
Dwyane Wade said after the Heat's loss—its first since the beginning of February—that he's surprised James doesn't receive more technical fouls for retaliation. Wade went as far as to suggest that maybe James should dole out some of his own punishment from time to time.
"I big guy like that, I don't think they really want to see him start trying to inflict pain on other people," Wade said. "He plays the right way and he gets reffed like a guy who was in this Miami Heat jersey before, Shaquille O'Neal.
"It's tough, but that's why he is who he is. You've got to deal with it. It's unfortunate but tonight he decided to get back a little bit. I don't think it was that bad but he got called for it."