For the longest time, LeBron James has benefitted greatly from the referee’s whistle, but things are changing this season. As per him, at least.
Most of the times defenders get whistled guarding James are when they are actually fouling him, but he has gotten his fair share of superstar calls. Typically, those happen when it’s 50-50 and said superstar would get awarded foul shots based on reputation. Calls like that are nothing new, and dominant players throughout history have gotten them. This season, whether he’s getting fewer whistles or not, the officiating is getting on his nerves.
According to Dave McMenamin, James “has become increasingly frustrated” by an apparent lack of whistles getting thrown his way.
During the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ 100-92 loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, James was assessed just his second technical of the year after he was entirely livid following a no-call on Jazz guard Shelvin Mack.
“Yeah, I got fouled,” said James after the game.
Judging by the numbers, you wouldn’t know that this is an issue since LeBron attempts 7.1 foul shots a game, a number that’s good for tenth in the league according to Basketball Reference. It’s also more than he attempted last year, and a greater percentage of his attempts came within three feet of the basket.
Roughly 48 percent of his shots came inside the restricted area in 2015, compared to 40.3 this year.
Pound-for-pound, he’s probably the strongest guy ever to play in the NBA, and he has a skill level that isn’t supposed to come with players his size. Picture Karl Malone with Oscar Robertson‘s skill set.
Furthermore, he’s relentlessly attacking opponents this year, something that we’ve grown accustomed to, but he’s also finishing at a clip that’s a bit better than usual. When James gets a head of steam and is going downhill, defenders bounce off him like a mosquito being hit by a Maserati, and that’s a huge reason why he converts on 74 percent of his attempts within five feet of the basket.
Maybe the officials are expecting him to finish every time he goes to the basket regardless if there’s contact or not. It may not be the proper way to officiate, but the players need to roll with it. Since James is so strong, the contact doesn’t matter unless the player fouling him is significantly bigger than he is. Still, an underlying point here is that maybe the referees aren’t giving him anymore superstar foul calls and that’s hard for anyone to comprehend because James has been so dominant for so long.
His actions speak louder than his words. James has been complaining to the referees significantly more this year than any other year in recent memory. There is no exact stat on this, but he’s approaching Draymond Green territory when it comes to talking back to the official.
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