LeBron James denies that he simulates fouls. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
LeBron James defended his basketball honor after having it questioned by the Bulls following a Game 3 shove from Nazr Mohammed that sent him flying across the court.
"I don't need to flop,'' James said, according to the Associated Press. "I play an aggressive game. I don't flop. I've never been one of those guys.''
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and guard Nate Robinson both got in digs at James following Miami's 104-94 Game 3 victory in Chicago on Friday night.
“From my angle, I just saw a guy, basically, flop,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I’m going to leave it at that.”
“You see LeBron in a lot of commercials, a lot of good acting,” Bulls guard Nate Robinson added, according to Yahoo! Sports.
James responded to those comments on Sunday.
"I don't want to get involved too much with what everybody else says about us, about me,'' he said. "It's nothing I haven't heard before in my career. It's nothing. ... I'm here to play basketball and do whatever it takes for our team to win. So what a coach and players say to me and about me, I don't really care. ... It's kind of the same [as when] I heard people say I was overrated. It's kind of like the same response.''
The 2013 MVP has made an issue of Chicago resorting to what he believes are "non-basketball plays" this season and the Eastern Conference semifinals series between the two teams has been full of physical play and trash-talking. In Game 2, both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected for disputing calls. In Game 3, Mohammed was ejected for shoving James to the court.
“When you play this team you have to have a lot of mental, physical and emotional toughness,” he said. “Things aren’t going to go your way. That’s the way it is. You’re not going to get calls. That’s reality. We still have to find a way to get it done and we can.”
For what it's worth, James has not received a warning or fine this season under the NBA's new anti-flopping policy, which aims to curb the most egregious simulations and over-exaggerations. This season, he attempted 535 free throws, sixth-most in the NBA, trailing only James Harden, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook.
Miami leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is set for Monday in Chicago.