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The Sports Brothers: April 3, 2013

caines | 4/4/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Is basketball a contact sport? So now LeBron James is a crybaby for calling out the officials lastweek after the Chicago Bulls ended the Miami Heats record setting winning streak 101-97 at the United Center. Chicago fans were deliriously happy after the Bulls pretty much tackled the Heats superstar with a combination of cross body checks and tackles that would have made Mike Singletary proud. This is how the Bulls ended the longest NBA winning streak in more than 40 years, stopping LeBron James by any means necessary. These Bulls had a bold plan for James, against any other player guys would have been ejected or even worse possibly brought up on assault charges, and James message was pretty simple, when did it become okay to flat out mug him? I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays, James said last weekinside the United Center. First of all, Kirk Hinrich basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not basketball plays and its been happening all year. The timing of Lebrons complaintwas rather suspect since it came on the heels of a loss but there is no doubt that he does have a point. When is a foul a foul? When is a flagrant foul a flagrant foul? When did the NBA become some street league where certain players can pretty much get beat up just because they physically appear to be able to take it. We saw this in the past with gentle giant Shaquille ONeal who on most nights had every reason to turn around and pull a Kermit Washington on players frantic efforts to stop him. NBA commissioner David Stern needs to correct this injustice. The NBA thrives off of its superstars, so they need to be protected much in the same way the NFL protects its quarterbacks. These are your cash cows. Those who are physically superior than most others like LeBron need to have the same type of officiating that regular guys have. Why is it okay for Kirk Hinrich to flat out tackle LeBron like he is an outside linebacker? What if Birdman Andersen tackled Nate Robinson in exactly the same way? Ejection, suspension? Maybe. Bottom line is LeBron like Shaq before him has shown extreme patience and self control by not reacting with a right cross or an uppercut to the guy that wacks him in a way not becoming of the game of basketball. Maybe when Lebron shatters someones face the way Washington did Rudy Tomjanovichs back in the 70s, the league will do something about this. Until then, let us all hope that this big guy remains calm and does not meet force with force. Someone could get seriously hurt because of a non-basketball play.