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LeBron James whines about bias after another team loss

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After Sunday’s 110-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James was complaining about not getting enough free throws.

It would seem that getting calls has never been a problem for James. But does he have a point?

“We’re at a point now where we protect the shooter more than the driver,” James said after the game, according to ESPN.

https://twitter.com/Vitricate/status/967951810630766592

“There’s no reason I should be going to the line four times in a game when I drive 100 times to the paint and I’m getting hit and slapped and grabbed and whatever and whatnot. We protect the shooter. That’s what it’s turned into. ‘Chicks dig the long ball,’ and that’s what it’s about,” James added.

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James attempted four free throws in the game, making three of them, on his way to a game-high 33 points.

The Cavs, as a team, attempted just 14 free throws while the Spurs shot 32.

Teammate Tristan Thompson had James’ back

Do you think the refs are biased against Lebron?

“I mean, he attacks the rim a lot, so it’s up to the ref. It’s on them to make the calls,” Thompson said after the game. “I think, with him being so strong and athletic, just because he’s bigger and stronger than everyone, doesn’t mean it (should not be) a foul. I think he gets fouled more than anyone in this league, and he gets hit, but people kind of take advantage of the fact that he’s 280 (pounds) and he’s a freight train. But if a guy gets hit, you got to call the foul. But that’s just my personal opinion.”

The math does support his claim. According to ESPN, James averages 11.3 drives but just six free throw attempts per game this season — his lowest since his rookie year (5.8 FTs/game). Last year, James averaged 7.2 free throws per contest with the same amount of drives.

James’ 356 three throw attempts puts him at 12th in the NBA, his lowest ranking since at least 2007. In the last 10 years, he’s never been outside the top 10 in free throws attempted.

However, his theory that refs love the long ball doesn’t pan out. When you look at the top 10 players this season in terms of free throw attempts, it’s not exactly a list of the league’s sharp shooters.

James Harden is number one, and while he certainly shoots quite often from beyond the arc, a lot of his game involves driving to the hoop, and he is known for drawing contact. But after that, it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, DeMar Derozan, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Damian Lillard. Most of the these players are big men or players who drive or play around the hoop.

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And where does Steph Curry rank? 25th.

Maybe it’s just that teams are defending James better, knowing his tendencies after all these years. And maybe he’s not as good at drawing contact as someone like Harden.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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