Gibson foul on LBJ upgraded
The NBA upgraded one of Taj Gibson's fouls on LeBron James to a flagrant, but it wasn't one of the two fouls James complained about after the Chicago Bulls snapped the Miami Heat's win streak March 27 at the United Center.
Like I said before, I didn't try and hurt him. I think he's a great player, I just tried to make a good foul without trying to hurt anybody, but sometimes it goes that way.” -- Taj Gibson
Gibson caught James across the neck and shoulder on a play in the fourth quarter, and James said after the game that he didn't consider Gibson's foul to be a basketball play. He also complained about Kirk Hinrich taking him to the ground in the first quarter. Neither of those plays was called a flagrant, although Gibson's was reviewed.
It was a Gibson foul with 2:37 left in the first quarter that was upgraded, and the upgrade was met with surprise in the Bulls' locker room Sunday night after their win over the Detroit Pistons. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported the upgrade Saturday.
"I really can't dwell on it," Gibson said. "It's part of the game. I'll have to just keep moving forward.
"That game is behind us now. Just focus on getting wins. Like I said before, I didn't try and hurt him. I think he's a great player, I just tried to make a good foul without trying to hurt anybody, but sometimes it goes that way. But by all means I'm not a dirty player, nor is Kirk, but we'll have to wait until we see him again."
The Bulls play in Miami on April 14.
Gibson didn't even realize the foul in the first quarter was the one in question until a reporter told him the news.
"I don't even remember what happened," Gibson said. "I just tried to make a play, and I guess it was a foul. But hey, it's going to happen. I don't remember it, but the NBA is doing their job and trying to correct things. I can't be mad at that. I'm going to have to keep pushing and moving on and get ready for the next time we play them, I guess."
Thibodeau wasn't as accepting.
"I guess we have to call the league and get clarification," he said. "I didn't see it that way. I still don't have a good understanding of what a flagrant foul is. By rule, it's unnecessary, excessive. I thought I got some clarity last year, but apparently I didn't."
After James complained about the fouls, Gibson said he thought James was "too good" to complain and Danny Ainge said it was "almost embarrassing" that James would complain. Heat president Pat Riley then stood up for James by criticizing Ainge and telling him to "shut the f--- up."
As for whether James' reputation helped get the call upgraded, Thibodeau wasn't biting.
"I guess we have to talk to the league to find out," he said. "They're judgment plays, so things are tough. That's part of it."
Gibson believes the national spotlight of the game might have made the league take another look.
"I just think it was one of those games that was highly televised," Gibson said. "And whenever a game like that is highly televised and there's a lot of banging and a lot of physical play, [the league is] going to look at it, and sometimes you've got to respect the league.
"Whatever they do, you've got to respect it and keep moving forward. Lucky for us, we got the win; lucky that we didn't lose and then we'll be sitting here wondering about that foul, but it's behind us."
Gibson said he and his teammates played the Heat the same way they always do.
"We didn't do anything different," he said. "We just played them the way we normally played them. Every time we play them, it's like a playoff game -- we don't shy away from anything. Every time we play them, they adjust, we adjust. It's all about who wants it more. It's both teams just really clashing. At the end of the day, I don't have any hard feelings against [James], it's just basketball. It's just basketball, nothing personal. Nothing like, 'I hate him,' it's just basketball."
James was called for a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter for lowering his shoulder into Carlos Boozer. It came moments after Gibson hit him across the shoulder.