James Harden suspended 1 game for kicking LeBron James in groin

The Houston Rockets went all out after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers by two points on Sunday, even going so far as to declare James Harden "the new King James" after having vanquished LeBron James in regular-season battle. Unfortunately for Harden, it looks like he will see some punishment for deposing the old monarch.

The NBA announced Monday that Harden has been suspended one game for kicking James in the groin with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter. Harden was issued a flagrant-1 foul during the game, but that has since been upgraded to a flagrant-2. Harden will miss the Rockets' Tuesday game at the Atlanta Hawks, another East contender.

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Take a look at the play:

Many of you may watch that video and consider the suspension excessive considering that Harden did not exactly strike LeBron with the greatest of force. However, kicking another man — let alone a fellow All-NBA First Team member — in the nether regions is typically considered very bad form. The NBA does its best to protect its best and most popular players, and a four-time MVP and global icon certainly qualifies as such. While Harden is one of the two or three top candidates for MVP this season, he's not going to get away with such a move on a player of James's caliber.

LeBron earned a lot of negative attention on Sunday for missing a pair of free throws down one point in the final seconds of overtime, but it appears that the league office paid attention when he indicated that Harden's flagrant foul was in need of further review. It would be wrong to suggest that the NBA suspended Harden simply because LeBron is LeBron — again, it's not so nice to kick anyone in the groin — but people tend to listen when James talks.

Regardless, Harden will certainly be missed for Tuesday's game with Atlanta. Houston is already playing without star center Dwight Howard, who has been on the shelf since early February with a problematic right knee. Harden is an MVP frontrunner for a reason — the Rockets' offense revolves around him — and playing without him on the road against one of the NBA's most balanced squads is not a recipe for success.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!