LeBron James has struggled with foul calls his whole career. When you have the impact that he does on a game, opponents are going to foul you. And when you have the strength that he does, you can take contact without going down like other players.
But just because he can still get to the rim through contact doesn’t mean it’s fair that he doesn’t get calls other players would. If he tripped every time a defender had illegal contact, he’d fall on the free throw line on virtually every possession. But because he stays up and plays through the fouls, he doesn’t get teh fouls he deserves. After a career of dealing with it, he’s become extremely frustrated.
We’ve seen him get more and more angry with officials this season, and it’s come to a point where it’s impossible not to notice. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that LeBron “has become increasingly frustrated with the way he’s been officiated.”
That was made clear in the Cavs showdown against the Jazz this week, when LeBron got into a heated exchange with an official. After a no call on some very obvious contact from Shelvin Mack, LeBron got into a spat with a ref and picked up his second technical foul of the season.
McMenamin explained the frustration further:
Much of James’ detest comes from the fact that the vast majority of his shots come from within the paint – as 12 of his 20 did on Tuesday – yet, according to multiple sources, he feels contact is ignored whereas players who thrive more on jump shots than drives have been rewarded with big nights at the line. (Jimmy) Butler has had two games with 20 free throw attempts or more since the New Year, and (James) Harden has had double-digit free throw attempts in seven of his past nine games, for instance.
It’s hard to ignore numbers like that. Whether the officials will start to do a better job making calls on driving players remains to be seen.