clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

First to the Floor: LeBron James’ temper tantrum

While Tatum certainly fouled LeBron on that last play, it’s not unusual for the refs to swallow their whistles at the end of games.

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On this episode, Jake and I look at the stretch run before the All-Star break and discuss the 53-minute panic attack that was the most recent iteration of Celtics vs. Lakers. I want to make one thing clear about the elephant in the room: on LeBron’s potential game-winning layup, Tatum fouled him. I also want to make one thing clear: you aren’t special, LeBron (well you are, but not in this very particular instance). This happens. All. The. Time.

In fact, it’s happened to the Celtics twice this season. Let me take you back to one of the more painful losses this year. It’s November 2nd, the C’s are fresh off an overtime loss to the Cavs. They’re playing, you guessed it, the Cavs again. It’s 107-105 in favor of the Cavs. Joe Mazzulla draws up this beauty of a play for the tie.

Difficult to tell from that angle, but the replay shows pretty clearly that Jarrett Allen hammered Tatum across the head. It almost certainly should have been an and-1, which would have won the game for the Celtics assuming Tatum connects on the free throw and still locks up Mitchell on the other end. Celtics end up losing, and more importantly, zero on court temper tantrums thrown.

Literally the game before the Lakers win against the Knicks, Tatum fires up a potentially game-winning midrange jumper that misses. Robert Williams snags the rebound and gets hit on the arm by Jericho Sims. Would have put Rob on the line where he just needs 1 to win. No call. Rob Williams engages in a semi-disappointed clap to show his frustration.

Remember Game 6 against the Raptors in the bubble playoffs? Several missed calls, including Kemba getting hammered on the potential game winning layup (also, Nick Nurse spotting up for a corner 3).

There’s a common idiom in basketball that the refs “put their whistles away on the final possession.” That is generally true. They often let a lot more contact go in the final few possessions of a game. It’s a reality of the NBA, one that LeBron has benefitted from and one that has cost the Celtics as recently as the previous game. At some point, there’s a line where the contact is so egregious that the refs have no choice but to call it.

Maybe Tatum’s foul crossed that line. It was certainly a foul by the letter of the law. Regardless of why it wasn’t called or how it was missed, these things happen to every team throughout the course of a season. It’s a reality of the game, even if it’s one we hope robot refs will fix. Sorry, LeBron, but maybe you should have won in overtime.

Actually, you know what? I’m not sorry. Tatum got all ball.

Hope you enjoy this episode, and please subscribe to the CelticsBlog podcast feed and the First to the Floor YouTube channel. Thanks for all the support!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Celtics Blog Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Boston Celtics news from Celtics Blog