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LeBron James criticizes NBA officials in response to fan’s conspiracy theory: ‘Frustrating as hell’


Criticizing officials is in vogue.

A day after Joey Bosa sounded off on NFL officiating, LeBron James had his own words for NBA referees.

James tweeted some likely fine-worthy criticism during a Lakers time without work on Monday. His tweet was in response to a fan conspiracy theory that the NBA has it out for the Lakers and intentionally ignores fouls against them. Said fan pointed to Sunday’s Philadelphia 76ers win over Los Angeles for example.

The Lakers held possession of the ball in the sport’s final seconds while trailing, 113-112. Russell Westbrook drove against Joel Embiid from the left wing. He attacked the basket, but fell down without getting a shot off, and the 76ers held on for the one-point win.

Video replay shows Embiid grabbing Westbrook’s right wrist because the Lakers guard attacked the basket. A fan tweeted closeup slow-motion video of the contact in a post asking: “Why is the NBA attempting to be sure that Lakers lose?”

To be fair, that is a blatant foul. It was tough to see in real time, however the replay is difficult to dispute. Westbrook agreed after the sport.

“I used to be attempting to get my hand up,” Westbrook told reporters. “I could not get my hand as much as shoot because he was grabbing it. However it’s all good.”

In some way, the NBA didn’t concur, even with the good thing about replay and the accountability of its last-two-minute report. The report released Monday declared that Embiid, in actual fact, didn’t foul Westbrook.

“Embiid (PHI) barely extends his arm before retracting it and marginal arm contact occurs with Westbrook (LAL) throughout the driving shot attempt,” the L2M report reads.

That is a generous definition of “marginal arm contact” and the form of response tailor-made to feed into the conspiracy-minded wing of the NBA fanbase. The league got this flawed on the ground and again upon review. Not great.

This predictably perturbed Lakers fans and prompted James to get entangled. One other fan responded to the above tweet and video asking “How is that this not a Huge Scandal?” That is where James chimed in together with his own Twitter response that didn’t dispute the unique premise that the NBA is out to get the Lakers. It also included direct criticism of NBA officiating.

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“And all 12 months they keep telling me to my face on the court, “I didn’t see it” or “It wasn’t a foul,” James wrote. “It’s not making sense to me seriously! Frustrating as hell man! Anyhow keep going Squad!”

It is easy to see how James could be frustrated and willing to risk a positive by calling out a mistake. But co-signing a conspiracy theory that the NBA doesn’t want the Lakers and James to win is next-level. Does he really consider that the league doesn’t want its most marketable glamour franchise and its biggest superstar to win and is actively taking steps to make sure that they lose?

We’ll be waiting patiently for the NBA’s response.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on throughout the second half of a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Crypto.com Arena on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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