It’s a familiar sight to NBA fans: LeBron James drives to the basket, bulls through contact, and finishes at the rim before falling to the ground. Whether or not it goes in, he will often gesticulate at referees for a foul call as play moves back in the other direction. Whether or not you believe his pleas has a lot to do with your opinion of him on the whole, but LeBron would like to make it clear: He’s fed up with not getting those calls.
LeBron picked up a technical foul during Tuesday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz for yelling at officials after he was fouled by Shelvin Mack. He was apparently still talking about the previous possession, when he thought he was fouled, again by Mack, only for the refs to swallow their whistles.
James was irate, in part, because, sources told ESPN, he could hear Utah coach Quin Snyder instruct Mack to foul him to prevent the transition bucket, and even with that instruction being given and James absorbing what he thought to be obvious contact from Mack, no call was made.
“Yeah, I got fouled,” James said after the game, when asked about his outburst.
When asked if [the tech] was a result of frustration over the way he has been officiated lately, James conceded: “It is, it is. It is. But I know what the main thing is — the main thing is to win — but it is. It is. It is.”
That’s the repetition of an incredibly annoyed person, and maybe he has a right to be ticked off — he’s only tenth in free-throw attempts per game, despite getting a larger portion of his offense in the paint and playing more minutes than nearly everyone higher than him on the list. The ESPN article from which LeBron’s above statement comes drew a parallel to Shaquille O’Neal’s frustrations at officials in his days, and the parallels are there — both are physical specimens who may not react to contact the same way a smaller guy like Isaiah Thomas might, making it tougher on officials to see contact.
Then again, LeBron attempting seven free throw attempts per game while leading the top seed in the Eastern Conference is not the best place from which to gain sympathy.