LeBron James is difficult to officiate.
He’s stronger and faster than his opponents, so he both initiates and receives more contact than most players. He’s this era’s Shaquille O’Neal, who dealt with similar issues.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said during the Finals that referees haven’t found the right balance – and apparently LeBron agrees.
Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has become increasingly frustrated with the way he has been officiated this season, multiple team sources told ESPN following Cleveland’s 100-92 loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
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.
Add it up and there is a perception by James, according to multiple sources, that he doesn’t get officiated the same way as many of his All-NBA-level peers.
This leak is LeBron, or someone on his behalf, lobbying for a more favorable whistle. Will it work? He does have outsized influence on the league.
By the way, the call that had reportedly LeBron particularly irate came when he heard Jazz coach Quin Snyder call for Shelvin Mack to intentionally foul LeBron – and it still got no call:
Uncalled intentional fouls are not unique to LeBron, and they expose a deficiency in the entire system. Referees can’t see everything on the court. Perhaps, larger officiating crews would help. Leveraging technology to call things like three-second violations and out of bounds could also free human referees to watch for more discretionary calls. But when players aren’t always whistled when intentionally hacking, something is wrong.