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LeBron James ejected for first time in his career

LeBron James argues after being ejected in the second half by referee Kane Fitzgerald Tuesday night.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

CLEVELAND — Incensed at not getting a foul called on a drive to the basket, LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his illustrious career on Tuesday night, tossed in the third quarter of Cleveland’s 108-97 win over the Miami Heat.

With the Cavs leading by 23, James, who had attempted just one free throw at that point, drove the length of the floor and drew contact from Miami’s James Johnson and Dion Waiters. When he didn’t hear a whistle, James screamed and gestured toward referee Kane Fitzgerald, who quickly called a technical and pointed for the three-time champion to leave the floor.


It was the first time James had been thrown out in 1,082 career NBA games, and he said it was a first since he started playing basketball as a boy in Akron.

‘‘On that particular play I got fouled all the way up the court, from the time that I stripped him (Johnson) all the way until I got to the rim, and so that’s what it’s about,’’ James said. ‘‘I said what I had to say and I moved on, but he (Fitzgerald) thought that I should get two of them, so it is ... we got the win and that’s most important.’’

James has long complained about not getting calls near the basket, and hinted that his eruption may have been caused by pent-up frustration.

‘‘I'm one of the league leaders in points in the paint,’’ he said. ‘‘I drive just as much as anybody. At this point, it’s almost like they’re trying to turn me into a jump shooter. I can’t be a jump shooter. I'm not a jump shooter. I watch games every single night and I see jump shooters going to the line multiple, double-digit times every night.

‘‘I'm not a jump shooter and I get fouled just as much as everybody else, so it’s going to the line one time, three times or four times, that’s not what it’s about.’’


Fitzgerald said he couldn’t let James’ actions go unpunished.

‘‘It was a culmination of a couple different acts,’’ he told a pool reporter. ‘‘Immediately after the no-call, he turned and threw an air punch directly at me and then he aggressively charged at me and then he used vulgarity in my ear a few times.’’

Dwyane Wade said he has seen James that mad before.

‘‘I just ain’t never seen him get ejected,’’ said Wade, who was teammates with James for four seasons in Miami before reuniting with him in Cleveland this season. ‘‘But I've definitely seen him that mad before. He only got one ejection — 15 years, that’s pretty good.’’