LeBron James says Joakim Noah is taking things too far when it comes to on-court trash talking.
Following a spectacular buzzer-beater by Derrick Rose that lifted the Chicago Bulls to a a 99-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, James told reporters Noah made “disrespectful” comments to him during the game.
Both James and Noah earned technical fouls in the third quarter when James dunked over Noah and the two players exchanged verbal barbs.
“I love his emotion as a competitor, but I think the words he used to me were just a little bit too far,” James said. “I’m a father with three kids, and it got very disrespectful. I’m OK with competing against Jo, but the disrespectful words he said to me were uncalled for.”
Noah said he was simply trying to help his team win and claimed he didn’t know what James was talking about.
“Disrespectful?” said Noah to the Cleveland Plain Dealer when told of James’ comments. “I got mad respect for LeBron. We’re just two players trying to win a game. That’s all. I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’m just trying to win games for my team.”
Noah is known for his trash-talking, and James said he was trying to take out his frustrations by playing harder. His dunk over the Chicago Bulls center only made it worse.
“That’s the only way I know how to resolve things is by making a play and trying to help our team,” James said. “And it happened bang, bang, just like that. If it was the ‘90s or ‘80s, I would have been able to say what I had to say and move on, but I got the [technical]. I earned it.”
The Bulls lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1, with Game 4 on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how James and Noah get along for the rest of the series.