LeBron downplays contact with Blatt: 'Just protecting my coach'

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James putting his hands on head coach David Blatt's chest Tuesday was inevitably going to be blown out of proportion.

In the second quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers' loss to the Phoenix Suns - their ninth loss in 10 games - James was whistled for an offensive foul and became quite upset with the officiating crew. Blatt came to James' defense, getting in the face of a referee. As Blatt approached the referee, James tried to guide Blatt away by pushing him with one hand, leading to a stern look from his coach.

Optics are everything, and the force of the push looked bad. James was likely hoping to avoid a technical foul for himself and his coach, which he succeeded in doing, but with the current state of the Cavaliers, it looked alarming.

James explained the contact after Tuesday's game, more or less confirming that benign logic:

I got called for an offensive foul, and they said I hooked one of the Morris twins on a post-up when he grabbed me. It was a referee that was away from the play (who called it). I was talking to Eric Lewis, one of the other refs, and coach Blatt was getting a little fired up about it, too, and he was on his way to a technical. So I just got him up out of the way before he got a T. So, just protecting my coach.

Blatt confirmed James was trying to keep him from receiving a technical, one he was willing to get for what he perceived to be an inequality in officiating regarding James. 

Add it to the long list of minor dramas in the 2014-15 Cavaliers season. They all mean little alone, but they're sure weaving a rich tapestry of discontent.

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LeBron downplays contact with Blatt: 'Just protecting my coach'
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