On Dec. 8th, in a Miami Heat win over the New Orleans Hornets, LeBron James registered two personal fouls. That doesn’t exactly place him in Amir Johnson-territory, as the Toronto Raptors big man averages a healthy 6.2 fouls per 36 minutes of play, but it did give the 2011-12 NBA MVP 32 whistles after 18 games.
James has played 23 games now, for his 17-6 Miami Heat, and he’s still only registered 32 fouls on the year. It’s been five games, LeBron has played over 186 minutes over the course of his team’s 4-1 run, and he hasn’t been hit with a single foul throughout the entirety of that span. Not a tap or a tweet or a flop or a flail. Impressive stuff, LeBron. So much so that our friends at The Basketball Jones have marveled at this streak in each of their most recent podcasts. So much so that on Saturday night, in a game against the notoriously slap-happy Utah Jazz, LeBron might take in some sarcastic applause from Heat fans should he be whistled for his first foul in two weeks.
That is, of course, assuming the people that buy tickets to a Miami Heat game on a Saturday night pay attention to this stuff.
The streak has actually gone on past 186 minutes. James was hit with his second foul, and offensive charge, nine and a half minutes into the Dec. 8th win over the Hornets. This means he played a good 25 minutes or so during that contest without an infraction, which puts the foul-less streak at over 211 minutes. Considering James’ All-Defensive First Team credentials, this is strong stuff.
Strong stuff that, for those that like to do their finest work in comment sections, might be sloughed off as a “Star Treatment” situation. It’s true that, without meaning to, NBA referees show deferential treatment to superstars when they make their split-second whistle decisions mostly because they tend to trust an All-NBA type more than a scrub when it comes to judgment calls. It’s not that NBA refs are trying to keep the stars on the floor, players like LeBron James are too good to make something like that come into consideration, it’s just the inherent bias that comes from seeing talented players consistently do remarkable things.