If You Come at The King...
Joel Embiid just learned that even a "love tap" from LeBron is fatal
Last night, in a very good game between the Sixers and Lakers that Philly won courtesy of a Tobias Harris dagger, LeBron James earned his first flagrant foul since 2014 for heroically taking on the grievances of NBA fans across America and shoving the incredibly annoying Joel Embiid to the ground. Watch it here:
For me, there are two really amazing things about this play:
1. At first glance, LeBron barely seems to touch him. There's not a ton of apparent force behind the push, and it even looks like he's moving backward.
2. Embiid, who you may have noticed is not a small dude, was absolutely not faking it. You can see in mid-air how his entire trajectory changes course, as though he were attempting to dunk but forgot about the brick wall a few feet in front of the basket. The difference is that walls don't make you fly backward, so maybe it's more like getting blasted with a cannon in the gut mid-dunk.
Which leaves you with a question: How does a human generate that much force with a bit of contact that doesn't even qualify as a shove?
Turns out, it's easy when that human is LeBron James. I'm not sure there are many other people on the planet, much less the NBA, who could completely reverse the momentum of a leaping 7-foot, 280 pound man with a simple two-handed quarter-push. Normally, that's poster territory, and we've seen it a thousand times before; you make half-hearted contact against a flying object, the flying object dunks on you, you become the object of ridicule. But if you're Lebron, you stick a hand out and the flying object gets spring-launched backward.
The whole thing reminded me of the famous Bruce Lee "one-inch punch," where the karate master could essentially floor another man from extremely close range. God forbid LeBron ever actually put his whole body into it...the victim would end up at half court.
It's an incredible show of strength from LeBron, and considering his power, he probably deserved the flagrant one. Embiid thought he should have been tossed from the game, while Sixers coach Doc Rivers adopted a "let 'em play" attitude, but I would gently suggest that before Rivers brushes it off as a regular foul, he should stand in the way of a "mild" shove from the greatest basketball player of his generation. After he peels himself off the ground, he might think jail time was the appropriate penalty.