LeBron James’ thunderous dunk and taunt during the third quarter was reportedly retaliation for a “disrespectful” remark from Joakim Noah on the previous possession. The long-time foes both received technical fouls for jawing at each other after the play. Noah, for what it’s worth, denied James’ accusation.
Joakim Noah said something to LeBron James and it resulted in the big man getting posterized on the very next play, according to James.
The altercation with Noah played out after a high-flying highlight, sparked by something said seconds earlier.
“I love his emotion as a competitor. I love his emotion, but I think the words that he used to me was a little bit too far,” James said. “I’m a father with three kids. It got very disrespectful. I’m OK with competing against Jo. I love the competitive nature in him, but we should leave it there. The disrespectful words that he said to me were uncalled for so the best way to retaliate is by making a play.”
When I approached Noah, he laughed and was hesitant to comment as he walked towards the exit of United Center. He was fined $25,000 before the game for shoving a fan during halftime of the Game 2 contest in Cleveland.
“Disrespectful?” he asked with more than a bit of sarcasm. “I got mad respect for LeBron. We’re just two players trying to win a game. That’s all. I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’m just trying to win games for my team.”
James took his anger out on the rim, and whoever was in the vicinity was just in store for a surprise. It just happened to be the one guy responsible for placing him in that bad mood.
“That’s the only way I know how to resolve things is by making a play and trying to help our team,” James said. “And it happened bang, bang, just like that. If it was the ’90s or ’80s, I would have been able to say what I had to say and move on, but I got the T. I earned it.”