BOSTON — Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was apoplectic at the end of regulation against the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
James clearly was fouled on a game-winning layup attempt by Jayson Tatum with the game tied, but no whistle ever came for the four-time NBA champion. All of James’ emotions were mixed into one, running around the court pleading for a call before dropping to his knees in the painted area on the floor and letting his head hang.
It was a stunning response from James, but it let everyone know exactly how he felt about a call the game’s crew chief admitted the officials “missed.”
“You saw my reaction,” James told reporters before drifting off into silence while shaking his head, per video from The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.
The non-call blew a tremendous opportunity for the Lakers as the Celtics regrouped to take a 125-121 victory in overtime at TD Garden.
James’ antics — he carried on for some time over the lack of a call — could have been seen as over the top, but James explained that he had basically hit his breaking point with referees not blowing their whistle in his favor at crucial points in games.
“It’s been building,” James said. “I mean, you’ve guys seen some of the games we’ve lost this year with late-game missed calls. We had an opportunity to literally win the game. This is the second one in the last few weeks for myself. Against Dallas, had an opportunity to win the game if the foul was called. Came down the other day, had an opportunity to tie the game if the four-point play is called.
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand what we’re doing, and I watch basketball every single day. I watch these games every single day, and I don’t see it happening to nobody else. It’s just weird.”
While James showed every feeling practically possible on the court in that moment, he was more subdued while talking to reporters after the game. It was much different compared to Anthony Davis, who voiced his frustrations more vehemently.
But by the end of a long, frustrating night, James felt more perplexed than anything else.
“It’s challenging,” James said. “I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint just as much any of the other guys in this league that are shooting double-digit free throws a night. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it.”