LeBron James may be a good actor, as Nate Robinson suggested. He may have flopped as Tom Thibodeau claimed. But Nazr Mohammed didn't do himself any favors with his actions in the second quarter of Game 3 between the Bulls and the Heat on Friday night.
The veteran Bulls reserve was ejected for a two-handed shove of James near midcourt directly in front of referee Joey Crawford, who had already started handing out technical fouls on the play. Thanks in equal measure to the involvement of James and Crawford, that may be the likeliest recipe for ejection from an NBA game.
With James dribbling up the floor early in the second quarter, Mohammed wrapped him up shortly after he crossed midcourt. In his attempt to wriggle free of the unexpected embrace, James tossed Mohammed to the floor. The tech-happy Crawford was quickly on the scene, whistle in mouth. Crawford issued James a technical foul as Mohammed sprang to his feet. The 35-year-old back-up big rushed James, administering that two-handed shove. By Mohammed's strength or his own design, James went sprawling backwards.
After a video review by officials, Mohammed was tossed. The crowd in Chicago roared with approval, even though the injury-depleted home team was left down another player. After Miami took a 2-1 series lead with a 104-94 win, Chicago players and coaches were still heated about the play.
"From my angle, I just saw a guy flop," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game, via The Associated Press. "I'll leave it at that. Nazr is a big part of our team. He normally gives Jo a rest, but we had to extend his minutes. Nazr is a big part of our rebounding, especially offensively."
While every able-bodied player is integral to the Bulls' chances of upsetting the defending champion Heat, Mohammed is still not quite as important to his side as the four-time NBA MVP is to the opposition.
"I sat right there when my teammates helped me up," James said after the game. "I mean way too much, way too much to my teammates to try and retaliate. Don't make no sense. I'm here to play basketball."
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Bulls guard Nate Robinson didn't think that James' basketball skills were the only ones on display.
"You see LeBron in a lot of commercials, a lot of good acting," Robinson said, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Flop or not, Mohammed expressed regret for his actions on Twitter after the game.
Mohammed was far from the only one who weighed in on the altercation and ejection on social media.