One of the most memorable flagrant fouls involving the Heat over the past few years came from Josh McRoberts in the 2014 playoffs. McRoberts was playing for Charlotte at the time, and on a critical defensive possession in Game 2 of a first-round series against Miami he delivered a flying elbow to LeBron James’ throat.
He was retroactively assessed a Flagrant 2 by the NBA and fined $20,000. Charlotte lost that game and ultimately was swept in the series, though the Heat took notice of McRoberts. He averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 47.1 percent on 3-pointers in the series, and Miami signed him to a four-year deal the following summer.
The elbow to James came up in a recent interview, and McRoberts said it was completely inadvertent.
“I was just trying to protect myself,” he said. “I didn’t try to do that at all. I was trying to get over there and foul him, but not like that. He got hit, cleanly, by (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), and Gilchrist pushed him into me. He got out of the way completely, where I was expecting him to keeping riding him.
“Something changed, and I went over there aggressively because it was either that or he was gonna dunk on me. It’s easy to say ‘Man, that was a dirty play,’ but it’s different when you’re standing in front of the 300-pound guy going full speed. He’s the best athlete in the history of the league.”
It didn’t bother McRoberts that the Heat reacted with hostility under the belief that it was a malicious play.
“I would’ve been the same way,” he said. “That’s how you’re supposed to be. That’s your teammate. You’re supposed to stick up for him. It was a playoff game and we had a chance to win that one. If you give him the layup, you don’t have chance. That’s just part of playoff basketball. I’d never try to make a dirty play or hurt somebody or something like that. I went over there and got caught in the air and it was what it was.”
Here’s the video: