Lakers to Address Officiating of LeBron James With NBA

Star’s lack of free throws against the Grizzlies raises concerns

LeBron James
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on November 23, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Brandon Dill/Getty Images

Here’s good news if you’re a Lakers fan: Los Angeles defeated the Grizzlies last night in a close game. Here’s encouraging news if you’re a LeBron James fan: in that victory, James scored 30 points. Here’s baffling news if you’re a fan of balanced officiating in sports: none of those 30 points came from free throws.

If that prompted a raised eyebrow and a “that can’t be right” look on your face, you’re not alone. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Lakers plan to take up the matter of how James is officiated with the league

The article, written by Tania Ganguli, includes one very visceral detail that makes the team’s decision to speak with the NBA eminently understandable. “James didn’t want to spend too much time talking about it, but he presented his left arm as evidence of the physicality with which opponents played against him,” Ganguli writes. “He had a long scratch on his forearm that was forming into a scab.”

Also quoted in the piece: James’s teammate Jared Dudley, who makes a convincing case for more soccer-style diving when egregious fouls are made. 

“Like everything, we’ll deal with the proper channels and talk to the league about that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told the Times

Whether the league’s referees hold certain players to a different standard than others is a hotly debated subject this year. Earlier this season, Marcus Smart of the Celtics argued that he was being unfairly targeted by referees. The coming months may well show whether the Lakers’ comments have had any impact.

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