LeBron James, Lakers Go Off On NBA Referees After Loss vs. Suns

LeBron James, Lakers, Suns, NBA
Feb 25, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts after a play during the second quarter of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a lot of complaints lodged by players, fans, and teams toward the NBA referees this season. They have a very difficult job and like anyone else working an occupation, mistakes sometimes occur.

However, that isn’t going to stop the scrutiny from happening. On Sunday, it was the Los Angeles Lakers who were taking shots at NBA referees. They went on the road to face the Phoenix Suns that afternoon and after the game, they did not mince their words when talking about the officiating.

Los Angeles, who has been leading the NBA by a wide margin when it comes to free throw differential, was on the other side of it Sunday. They attempted only eight free throws, making four, compared to the Suns, who were 18-of-19 on the afternoon.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers Updates

While that isn’t the biggest discrepancy we have seen this season when it comes to free throw attempts, the Lakers were ticked off nonetheless. After the game, superstar LeBron James shared his feelings, as he was not happy about how the game was officiated.

“That’s who we are. But a lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like, ‘That’s all the Lakers do is get to the free-throw line.’ It’s like this narrative out there that that’s all we do is get to the free-throw line,” James said. “I mean, we have attackers. That’s what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we’re not shooting 40-50 3s a game. We’re not that team. We don’t have the luxury of being that team.

“So, working it into the paint, that’s what we’re really good at. To have eight free-throw attempts is definitely not us. I know, definitely, I got hit a couple times when I got to the paint tonight that wasn’t called. But it is what it is,” James said via Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

NBA referees can’t blow the whistle every time contact is made. They have to make a judgement about whether the contact impeded or changed the outcome of the play and sometimes they just flat out get a call wrong.

This isn’t the first time James has spoken about his lack of calls and it surely won’t be the last. There is some gamesmanship being done when speaking after games, hoping it will coax a few more calls out of that referee crew next time they work a Lakers game.

James’ co-star, Anthony Davis, also commented on the free throws after the game. Getting to the foul line is a big part of the the Lakers’ offense and when whistles aren’t going their way, they face an uphill battle as they did on Sunday.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers Updates

“We live on getting to the line. We attack the basket. I’m not sure how many points in the paint we had, but we try to live in the paint,” Davis said. “Especially how much we struggle from the 3, we’re kind of up and down, so we try to live in the paint and get to the line. I’m not sure if it was just the refs missing it or they weren’t fouling. I felt I got fouled a couple of times. But that’s part of our identity, our DNA, is getting to the line and guys catching rhythms like that and then playing from there.”

The Lakers will be back at it on Wednesday night when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers. You can be sure that a few more whistles will be blown in their favor in that contest, as the eight free throw attempts on Sunday were well below the 24.3 they average per game.

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