The sixth foul that LeBron James picked up in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals was, if we're being generous to the officials, harsh.
Early in overtime against the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat star backed down Mickael Pietrus, who tumbled to the floor. He looked like he might have flopped, and it looked like he might have pulled James down with him. At worst, there was incidental contact, but James was whistled for an offensive foul.
James looked stunned at the whistle. Pietrus pumped his fist. With James out of the game, the Celtics went on to win, 93-91.
After the game, James did his post-game interview from his locker, and he didn't pull any punches when it came to his thoughts on the call that took him out of the game.
"I don't foul out. That sixth foul, I wish I would have earned it and it actually would have been a foul."
When pressed further on the issue, he continued.
LeBron on 6th foul: "I know how to play game of basketball, I know I don’t need the advantage of holding somebody or pushing somebody down"— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 4, 2012
There's a chance that the NBA might ask James to cut them a check to donate to partner charities for his criticism of officials. Even a good chunk of Celtics fans would agree that the officiating in Game 4 was poor -- after all, Paul Pierce fouled out for no good reason as well -- but players, coaches and executive rarely avoid fines for criticizing officials simply because they are correct.