Assault? Or a flop? It all depends on your perspective.
Drama always surrounds the NBA playoffs. After a full 82-game slate, the entire season comes down to a succession of best-of-seven battles, so tempers can be expected to flare.
But there has seemingly been a lot more yakking and smack-talking than usual.
Of course, Twitter and Instagram don't do anything to stem the flow of knuckleheadism, but the majority of the he-said he-said drama has taken place on the court, or just off it, in locker-room quotes to the media.
So with the postseason whittling down the contenders for the Larry O'Brien championship trophy, it's a good time to take stock of the of the major beefs that have arisen so far in these playoffs.
Jordan Crawford vs. Carmelo Anthony
You may recall that back in January, New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and Hall of Fame irritant Kevin Garnett got into a little spat, which resulted in Melo getting suspended for a game because KG allegedly said something regarding Anthony's wife and a popular breakfast cereal.
Well, following the Boston Celtics' win at Madison Square Garden in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, bottom-of-the-rotation player Jordan Crawford approached Carmelo and appeared to say some not very nice things to him.
Certain aspiring lip readers on Twitter offered their translations of Crawford's NSFW barb.
Afterwards, Anthony brushed off the incident, saying, "I ain't thinking about no Jordan Crawford. I don't think he deserves for you to be typing right now" (per Bill Reiter of FOX Sports on Twitter).
Crawford claimed on Twitter that he would "never talk trash about that mans Wife" and "All I did was respond!!"
Naturally, Melo's wife, La La Vazquez, took to Instagram to chide the relatively no-name Crawford, posting a message that read, "Strong women only intimidate weak men." I assume she was referring to Crawford—and perhaps Garnett as well—but not her husband.
As for Carmelo himself, he can be forgiven for asking, in the tradition of Pedro Martinez and Karim Garcia, "Who is Jordan Crawford?"
Mark Jackson vs. the Denver Nuggets vs. Stephen Curry
After criticizing the referees in the wake of Game 5 for not calling what he perceived to be some hard and dirty fouls by the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson earned himself a $25,000 fine for his contrarian attitude.
But you have to love how cryptically Jackson leveled his criticism in the postgame (per Adi Joseph of USA TODAY):
I got inside information that some people don't like that brand of basketball and they clearly didn't co-sign it. They wanted to let me know they have no parts in what was taking place. Let the best team win. And let everybody with the exception of going down with a freak injury, let everybody leave out of here healthy. That's not good basketball.
And Jackson broke it down more specifically as well, saying, for example, that Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried set "great screens and some great illegal ones, too." One screen on Stephen Curry was "a shot at his (previously injured) ankle, clearly. That can't be debated."
Jackson also said in the postgame: "They tried to send hit men at Steph...There were some dirty plays early. Make no mistake, we were up 3-1 [in the series] playing hard, clean physical basketball, not trying to hurt anybody" (per ESPN.com).
Curry agreed, saying, "There were a couple of plays I was cutting down the lane and I'm not really involved in the play, and somehow I get an elbow to my chest."
The Nuggets' Faried naturally disagreed, saying, "That's intriguing because I think they were purposefully trying to hurt me every play I went for a rebound—the hits, the grab to the throat, just the negative stuff you usually don't see in the regular season that's not getting called in the playoffs."
And the Nuggets media got in the act as well, with broadcaster Scott Hastings called Jackson "classless" for his reactionary comments (on The Dan Patrick Show, via ESPN.com).
But after his team ousted the dark-horse NBA Finals contender from the first round in six games, I'm quite sure that Jackson would eagerly tell Hastings what he can do with his opinions during the offseason.
Taj Gibson vs. Scott Foster
The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat have been roughing each other up ever since Chicago took a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 got completely out of hand, as the Heat opened up a 40-plus-point lead and things got a little heated.
Taj Gibson earned an ejection for screaming at referee Scott Foster after officials seemingly missed a goaltending call on Chris Andersen.
Gibson honestly looked like he snapped, unleashing a profanity-laden tirade at the ref and having to be hauled off the court by his coaches.
Following the loss, Gibson told the media, "It's one of those games that's chippy; it's playoff basketball, words are going to be said. I don't mean any harm to Scott (Foster). He's a good referee sometimes...I should have ended it a better way, and conducted myself in a better way and just walked away. It's just frustration" (via ESPNChicago.com).
Ah yes, nothing like a sublimely delivered back-handed compliment: "He's a good referee...sometimes." Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
And of course, Gibson will find his wallet $25,000 lighter for his tantrum after the league handed down the obligatory fine.
Tom Thibodeau and Nazr Mohammed vs. LeBron James
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau landed himself in a little hot water after their Game 3 loss for criticizing the officials, stating cryptically, "I see how things are going, I watch very closely. We're not going to get calls, that's reality" (via Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com).
Thibs also downplayed Nazr Mohammed's shove of LeBron James in the loss (which resulted in an ejection for Mohammed), giving his own terse assessment postgame, "From my angle, I just saw a guy basically flop."
As for his own actions, Mohammed apologized on Twitter, but he has no idea what he saw from his angle, since he "blacked out." And Mohammed was "happy" that it was just a push.
Sure. Because you would've whupped his butt, right Nazr?
Sorry for my overreaction & being ejected. I blacked out & just reacted after I was pushed down. I'm happy it only resulted w/ a push— Nazr Mohammed (@NazrMohammed) May 11, 2013
When James was asked in the postgame if he thought about retaliating on Mohammed for the shove, he replied, "Nope. I mean too much to my team" (per FOX Sports). Of course, that thought never occurred to Mohammed, despite Chicago already playing woefully short-handed without Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich.
What do you think of all the drama?
When LeBron was asked at practice on Mother's Day about Thibodeau's flopping comment, LeBron deployed a categorical denial, saying (per Friedell):
It's kind of the same as when people said I was overrated, I have the same response: I don't need to flop. I play an aggressive game but I don't flop. I've never been one of those guys. I don't need to flop. I don't even know how to do it. So it doesn't mean much to me.
The MVP doth protest too much, methinks. If that wasn't a flop, it surely was some sort of an embellishment. Either that, or Nazr Mohammed is much, much stronger than LeBron—so it was a flop.
There's not shortage of bad blood between these two teams, as they refused to even shake hands prior to Game 3, so the war of words may be far from over.