James Harden was suspended by the NBA after kicking LeBron James in the groin during a heated game won over by the Houston Rockets late Sunday night.
The kick was unintentional, Harden insisted. He said in a report by ESPN that the kick was a mere reaction to the double team against him by LeBron and James Jones.
The suspension came after the call of flagrant foul 1 against Harden.
LeBron, earlier in the first quarter, set the tone defensively, commanding over the Cavs, playing good defense, and blocking a shot by Harden after missing a pass.
Then came third quarter with LeBron drawing foul by Patrick Beverley. A bit of commotion occurred when LeBron apparently tried to put Beverly down by pushing him during the confrontation.
Tempers flared and the intense third caught Harden between Jones and LeBron, resulting in the kick.
Houston coach Kevin McHale said it was a pretty intense game. “(It) started off with a little scrum on the floor in front of our bench with Pat and LeBron. It just kind of stayed kind of chippy all game long, which is fine. Some games are chippy like that.”
Jones, however, said it was not game play.
“It was an intentional groin kick. It was an intentional kick to a troublesome area,” he said.
Not A First
This is not the first time NBA has suspended a player.
Dwayne Wade missed one game when he kicked Ramon Sessions in the groin during the 2012-2013 season. Jason Terry, then part of the Dallas Mavericks, likewise missed a game in the Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio Spurs when he punched Michael Finley in the same “troublesome area.”
Harden finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists. The Rockets won over an overtime game against the Cavaliers.