National Basketball Players Association’s first vice president, LeBron James, the game’s biggest star, is now lobbying for calls through the media. James told reporters: “We’re at a point now where we protect the shooter more than the driver. 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 didn’t quite attempt 100 drives against the Spurs. He’s credited with 18. James’ biggest gripe, though, came with seven minutes left. He drove to the basket looking to slice into a deficit that had grown to double digits. Kyle Anderson cleanly blocked him from behind. James couldn’t believe a foul wasn’t called, so much so that he earned a technical for his incredulousness. He was saying: “All f***ing game, man. All game”. It’s no wonder there’s a growing divide between referees and players. The game’s most prominent player took an unwarranted complaint into his postgame press conference, called out the officials as a whole, and the refs have little recourse to call him on it, other than to whistle him for a technical foul. And then the players complain about too-quick technicals. It’s a vicious cycle of incessant griping. I’m not sure statistics would support James’ theory, either. Among the 20 players who have attempted the most free throws this season (James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, Lou Williams, James, Kemba Walker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and Andre Drummond), all but four of them (Embiid, Durant, George and Booker) also rank in the NBA’s top 20 for drives, paint touches and/or field-goal tries in the restricted area. Of that group, Durant, George and Booker attempt more shots from the mid-range and beyond than they do inside the paint. Now, do we believe they get to the line often because refs are trying to “protect the shooter”? Or do we think it’s because star players are the biggest beneficiaries of blown whistles? Or is it because star players are adept at drawing fouls? Whatever the reason, LeBron James is the game’s biggest star, so if he’s not getting calls, then the refs really must be out to get him.
Forward Ersan Ilyasova completed his buyout with the Atlanta Hawks, clearing the way for him to join the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent. Ilyasova and the Hawks had been discussing a buyout over the past several days, and Atlanta was eager to allow Ilyasova to join a playoff team and contend down the stretch of the season. Ilyasova considered several opportunities with playoff teams, including Philadelphia, Golden State, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Toronto. Ilyasova is slated to clear waivers on Wednesday and is expected to reunite with the 76ers, with whom he played 53 games during the 2016-17 season. Ilyasova, a 6-foot-10 floor-spacer, has averaged 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 35.9 percent from 3-point range in 46 games this season for the Hawks. He’s in his 10th NBA season.
It seems Isaiah Thomas is a thorn in the side of many in the NBA these days. The Lakers point guard reportedly was the source of some locker room conflict while he was with the Cavaliers, although it appears that Dwyane Wade was the first to lead the charge against Kevin Love in the infamous player rap session. Thomas is now a member of the Lakers after being part of the worst section of the season in Cleveland. The Cavaliers, with their revamped roster, have just one loss since the trade deadline. LeBron James & Co. have moved on, and Thomas appears set for free agency this summer and yet another team. A move for the Cavaliers seemed inevitable, even if the return for Kyrie Irving from Boston — conveyed through consequent trades — was less than ideal. Meanwhile Thomas, who didn’t appear to enjoy his time in Ohio, has now said that he was surprised Dan Gilbert’s team bailed on him so quickly. Thomas said: “I didn’t think they would pull the trigger that fast, 15 games. But again, it’s a business. And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing — a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house”. Thomas went on to say that he didn’t think he had enough time to find a rhythm not only coming back from a hip injury but on a new team in a new system. Thomas also mentioned that he harbored no ill feelings toward the Cavaliers.
Colorado authorities say longtime NBA agent Dan Fegan died in a car crash Sunday. He was 56. The Colorado State Patrol says Fegan was driving an SUV when he tried to merge onto a highway and was broadsided by a commuter bus near Aspen, which is about 180 miles west of Denver. Colorado State Trooper Gabe Easton tells the Aspen Times the SUV’s other occupants, Fegan’s 5-year-old son and a 29-year-old California woman, were airlifted to a Denver hospital in serious condition. No one on the bus was hurt. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority CEO said the driver didn’t have time to avoid the collision. In 2016, Fegan was on Forbes magazine’s list of top agents. Among the players he had represented are John Wall, Demarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard.