NBA: Naked Bias Allowed……by old & in the way
MG9 brought to my attention something which I had not noticed previously and that is that Jeremy Lin, our Jeremy Lin, the one and only Jeremy Lin has been called for more fouls than any other player on the Los Angeles Leakers. Both Jeremy and Carlos Boozer have been called for an average of 2.9 fouls per game. But since Jeremy has played in one more game than Carlos that would multiply out to 3 more total fouls called against him. Neither Carlos nor Jeremy have fared very well when it comes to having fouls called in their favor. Jeremy has averaged a mere 2.9 fta/gm this season and Carlos has been treated even worse with only 2.4 fta/gm. while playing an interior position albeit he does play away from the basket frequently. It is well known that Jeremy is almost literally assaulted every time he drives the lane. Yet he rarely gets the benefit of foul calls on his drives to the basket. Rarely and I do mean rarely…virtually never even though he is rather routinely pounded by the defender and knocked to the ground without the referee’s whistle uttering a sound at all. And, of course, the fact that the defender can count on the likelihood that Jeremy won’t get the foul call just exacerbates the problem and makes them foul him harder and more often. Other players like James Harden, a prime example, get fouls called in their favor from minimal contact and sometimes phantom contact. The players listed above, whom I will sarcastically refer to in this piece as the benign nine, are those players in the league who average 7 or more fta’s per game. The two players at the top of this list, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, have mundane if not poor shooting percentages and would not average nearly as many points as they do without all the foul shots they are awarded. Russell Westbrook shoots 43% overall, but only 25% on 3’s and 46% on 2’s. James Harden shoots 44% overall, 36% on 3’s and 48% on 2’s. Jeremy Lin shoots 44% overall, 36% on 3’s and 48% on 2’s. The only real difference between these 3 players is the generous amount of free throws given to the former two and the paltry amount given to Jeremy Lin. Lin is certainly a much better defender than Harden. I don’t know how good a defender Russell Westbrook is. Both Harden and Westbrook have the ball in their hands much of the time when their teams are on offense. Jeremy has seldom been allowed to run the offense on any of the NBA teams he has played for with the exception of the Linsanity period in 2012 with the New York Knicks under MDA. All of us already know about the legacy of Kobe Bryant and the myths that surround him, but take a good look at the hard numbers that he has produced so far during this 2014-15 season: shooting 38% overall, 29% on 3’s, 40% on 2’s and, of course, those 7.3 fta’s per game. Without the 7.3 fta’s his year would be even more dire than it has been up to now.
The only member of the benign nine who isn’t already considered to be an elite player is Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls. The padded fta’s may just reflect this status of being considered elite. Or it may be that all of these benign nine have the offense flow through them often and are thus the center of more defensive attention. Or maybe there is the ball-hog factor which causes defenders to have a greater opportunity to foul them. Probably all of these factors come into play at times. But I also think that it stretches the credibility of the league and one’s own credibility and levels of gullibility and naivete to imagine that these players are being fouled any more often than everyone else in the league. It is gullible and naive to believe this in a league that features players like Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets, who in my view is a borderline dirty player, who employs a risky, reckless, dangerous and often ineffective defensive style that has lead to many other players accusing him of deliberately trying to injure them. In fact his rough style of play has lead to multiple injuries to his own body and caused him to miss many games. And so in a league in which many players go beyond the rules to get away with as much as they can as often as they can I think it is highly likely that many players are getting fouled as often as the above members of the benign nine. This most assuredly includes and then some our beloved Jeremy Lin who seems to me to be the league leader in fouls against a player that are not called. It is really too bad that this stat is not being calculated by NBA statisticians. On the average fouls against Jeremy per game not being called must be approaching double digits since in the NBA naked bias allowed is the status quo, the modus operandi, par for the course day after day after day and game after game after game. There is no doubt about it. Not now or ever. Officiating bias is only one of the ways in the NBA in which naked bias is allowed all day every day.