The residual damage appeared to be bad at first. Hibbert was on the floor writhing in pain for a while, falling back down after his first attempt to get up.
Did LeBron K.O. him on purpose? Was it an accident?
Is LeBron really the hybrid protege of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee?
Per The Palm Beach Post's Jason Lieser (h/t Pro Basketball Talk), LeBron wouldn't rule out the former:
LeBron on his flagrant: "If I can jump up in the air and elbow someone in the face and finish a play, I must be a kung-fu master."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) March 27, 2014
It seems LeBron is proficient in sarcasm too.
Intentional or not, LeBron's elbow deserved a flagrant foul. With the way those are handed out in the NBA today—like free microwaved food samples at Costco—any elbow to the face is a flagrant.
Ten years ago, maybe it's simply a personal foul. Maybe LeBron even gets away with it. Nowadays, though, it's a flagrant—especially in this game.
Every Pacers-Heat game has a playoff feel to it. Emotions run high, Lance Stephenson goes all Lance Stephenson and Dwyane Wade can will the referees into calling a second technical on whomever he pleases with the snap of his finger.
Plays like this—accidental or deliberate—are going to be called to keep teams in check. And they usually go both ways.
Unless you ask LeBron.
Should LeBron James have been called for a flagrant on his elbow to Roy Hibbert?
A fellow NBA superstar not named Chris Paul? Defending Blake Griffin?
Is this real life?
Personal, technical and flagrant fouls are definitely subjective. The criteria for what constitutes a certain type of infraction varies by game, that's for sure. But a good, virtually universal rule of thumb is that elbow-to-face connections are big, fat, whistle-provoking, flagrant foul-generating no-nos.
Remember that, LeBron. Check your kung-fu artistry at the door on future game days. Leave it at home altogether when you face the Pacers again on April 11.
Save those elbows for smashing stacks of bricks and plywood.