The Cleveland Cavaliers have dominated the Toronto Raptors so far in their playoff series, currently leading 3-0. Toronto has tried everything it can do to defeat LeBron James, including starting second-year Guard Norman Powell, but James has continued to own the matchup.
Powell was tasked with guarding the much bigger and stronger LeBron several times in Game 3, but there was one particular instance between the two that made the rounds on social media following the game: James intentionally tugging on Powell’s Jersey. Needless to say, Powell wasn’t okay with James doing so, as he tells ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
Raptors guard Norman Powell did not appreciate LeBron James yanking his jersey to keep him on the court when Powell was headed to the bench in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 115-94 Game 3 win, even if James’ intention was to help him.
“They were subbing in P.J. (Tucker), he thought I was coming out, he was pulling my jersey,” Powell told ESPN before Sunday’s Game 4. “I hit his hand away and told him, ‘You don’t do that.’ I told him not to pull my jersey. We got into it a little bit. I told him not to pull my jersey. If he’s trying to get my attention, call my name, call my number, but don’t do that. Don’t pull my jersey like that.”
Had Powell headed to the bench at that exact moment, the Raptors could have been called for an illegal substitution that would’ve resulted in a technical foul.
Powell, 23, said there is nothing personal between him and the 32-year-old James. It was how he would react with any opposing player.
“I just don’t like that,” Powell told ESPN. “I don’t care if it’s LeBron or if it’s anybody. It could be Kawhi (Leonard), it could be anybody. Just don’t pull my jersey. I feel like that’s a little disrespectful, you know what I’m saying? Like you’re trying to son me and I don’t go for that. You can call my name, you can try to get my attention, whatever it is, just don’t pull my jersey like that.”
James responded to Powell hitting his arm with an incredulous look.
“He said he was trying to help me,” Powell said. “I mean, if you’re trying to help me, don’t pull my jersey. You can call my name, you don’t have to pull my jersey like that. I feel like that’s disrespectful. So, I hit his hand away. He said he was trying to help me. He was like, ‘Alright, alright. I won’t help next time.’ Whatever. Just don’t pull my jersey.”
James has had it easy during this series, and some have pointed out that he seems more relaxed than usual. Perhaps in a disrespectful manner. Many of the decisions he’s made this series, including the yanking of Powell’s jersey, have led people to this conclusion.
Instances like when he spun the ball before shooting over Serge Ibaka, declared ‘margaritas were on me’ to Drake after a game, and pretending to take a sip from a beer bottle in Game 1 likely don’t sit well with the opposing team or fanbase.
Regardless, James continues to dominate anyone in his path during the playoffs with his eyes set on making the NBA Finals for the seventh straight time.
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