NBA fans love to point out when a player flops after minimal contact, but in most cases the offending party at least has the excuse of exaggerating to call attention to a foul that might not get whistled otherwise. LeBron James technically flopped to sell such contact in Saturday’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 between his Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors. It just came from a teammate, not a Raptor.
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With 43 seconds remaining in the first half, Raptors center Bismack Biyombo fouled Kyrie Irving in transition. Cavs big man and Toronto native Tristan Thompson took exception to the foul and approached Biyombo, who was then accompanied by Raptors guard Cory Joseph. LeBron and DeMarre Carroll joined the minor face-off soon after, and it looked as if the whole thing would end rather quickly with a technical or two to end any further escalation.
Then everything got really weird. Thompson brushed past Carroll as he walked away, triggering a slight elbow from Carroll that caused Thompson to swing with his left arm. It caught James in the throat, and he responded with an extremely dramatic fall backwards to the floor. Take a look at the whole goofy scene here:
Referee Ken Mauer immediately called technicals on every Raptor in the vicinity, but a replay review rightfully reversed most of them and ended up with double techs on Thompson and Joseph. Irving shot and made his free throws to cut the Raptors lead to 60-44, and the rest of us sat around laughing at whatever had caused LeBron to fall down.
Rob Perez of Fox Sports came up with the best explanation — the return of Lance Stephenson:
Let no one ever claim to LeBron will not do whatever it takes to win.
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