LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers don't think he's getting enough fouls called his way.
A day after James and head coach Darvin Ham waxed poetic about missed foul calls during Monday's 108-107 loss to the Miami Heat, ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers filed a formal complaint with the NBA league office.
Per the report, the Lakers cited "numerous missed foul calls" with a focus on perceived missed calls against James. The Lakers cited multiple clips from the game to demonstrate what they contend is clear illegal contact against James that wasn't called, per the report.
James finished with 30 points while shooting and making four free throws. The Heat shot 16 free throws as a team, while the Lakers attempted 14. The Lakers were whistled for 17 fouls; the Heat were called for 14.
James addressed a specific missed call after Monday's game while speaking with media.
"What they're telling me is not consistent with what's actually happening on the floor," James said, per McMenamin. "When I went for the dunk attempt against Thomas Bryant, he clearly elbowed, like, arm straight across my face.
"And I asked him for the explanation. Well, one of the refs said that he was straight up, hands straight in the air. Two of the refs said they were blocked and they didn't see it."
This is the play in question:
Los Lakers deberían enviar una maldita cinta a la NBA con todas las faltas no cobradas a LeBron
Así como lo hizo Phil Jackson en el pasado pic.twitter.com/itjhheD0Ss
— Lakers On 𝕏 (@LakersOnX) November 7, 2023
Thomas indeed goes straight up with his right arm in the air. He then swipes his arm down and clearly elbows James across the face. That's the kind of contact that can draw a flagrant 1 foul in today's NBA. James is right to be upset that a personal foul wasn't called.
The absence of a call prompted protest from Ham, which ultimately earned him a technical foul. He, too, addressed the officiating postgame.
"I see 'Bron shooting four free throws and the amount of times he attacked the rim, the amount of times he was slapped on the arm, which I could see plain as day, for that not to be called, man," Ham said. ... "He's not flopping. I'm watching him go to the hole strong."
Is LeBron James being officiated fairly?
James is averaging a career-low 5.7 free throws per game this season through seven games. His career average is 7.7 attempts per game, a rate he hasn't reached over the course of a single season since 2014-15 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. His career rate is elevated by three seasons early in his career that saw James average more than 10 free throws per game. As his game's evolved to include more perimeter play and 3-point shooting, his free-throw attempts have dwindled.
Meanwhile, James is no stranger to blaming his free-throw rate on how he's officiated. He's long complained via media, social media and on the court about NBA officiating. He did so again on Tuesday when he saw that the NBA confirmed that the calls in the last two minutes of Monday's game were all correct.
The game isn’t won or lost in the last 2 mins! If you know the game things happen throughout the 1st, 2nd. 3rd and first 10 mins of 4th that has MAJOR impact on outcomes. https://t.co/ReW6r43Wax
— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 8, 2023
In January, he endorsed a conspiracy theory on social media suggesting the NBA has it out for him and the Lakers. As if impeding the game's biggest star and the league's glamour franchise is in the NBA's interest.
And all year they keep telling me to my face on the court, “I didn’t see it” or “It wasn’t a foul”. It’s not making sense to me seriously! Frustrating as hell man! Anyways keep going Squad! 💜💛👑 https://t.co/tsrlXtJjuO
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 16, 2023
Calls are missed in every sport at every level in every game. Officiating is hard, and there are officials across all the major sports that are frankly not good at their job. In general, the calls go your way sometimes. And sometimes they don't.
James and the Lakers are proficient at making sure media and fans know when calls don't go their way. And now they're letting the league know with a formal complaint.