10 NBA Superstars Who Get Most Preferential Treatment from Referees
Conspiracy theories aside, it's very clear that whether intentional or not, NBA referees do often show preferential treatment to star players.
For every non-call that Joe Star may get, there's another two instances that they'll get to the free-throw line for being "fouled."
Sometimes, it's a good thing, as it keeps the stars on the court for us, the fans, to see, but oftentimes refs can go too far to protect certain players.
Here are the top 10 most spoiled stars in the NBA today.
10. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Chris Bosh may just now be an NBA champion, but he has long been a protected player by the league's referees.
Part of this treatment may have to do with joining the NBA's rating king—the Miami Heat.
Note that in each of his two years with Miami, Bosh has averaged a career-low 2.2 personal fouls per game, lower than any time during his seven years in Toronto.
Another stat to keep in mind are technical fouls, sometimes the telltale sign of referee protection.
In his last two years with the Raptors, Bosh racked up 12 techs overall. In two years with the Heat? Three total, including zero during their championship season.
Apparently, spending time in Miami has improved his acting skills as well.
9. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Maybe it's his intimidating persona, but NBA refs just seem to want to keep Josh Smith happy on the court.
Often among the league leaders in free throws attempted, Smith has stepped to the free-throw line as many as 469 times in a single season.
For someone who oftentimes settles for lazy jumpers, this is a staggering number.
Of course, you have the occasional non-travel call as well.
8. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Amar'e Stoudemire has always been a fan favorite due to his athleticism and diverse offensive game, and apparently the refs enjoy watching him stay on the court as well.
Despite playing in the NBA for 10 seasons now and playing in 641 games, Stoudemire has been called for a flagrant foul a grand total of exactly three times.
While plays like this certainly warrant one, it's amazing what Amar'e and other stars can get away with.
7. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin is without question the best dunker in the NBA today, even if some of those dunks aren't technically dunks.
Sometimes, we as fans, or referees, can be so awestruck by these dunks that it's easy to forget simple basketball rules—like, let's say, traveling.
Griffin is such a hot ticket in the NBA right now, it's only natural the refs let some things slide, like the occasional travel call, so long as it comes in the middle of a monster dunk.
Having taken 1,163 free-throw attempts in his first two seasons isn't too shabby either.
6. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Paul Pierce certainly isn't the most athletic player in the association, but he more than makes up for it in intelligence.
For example, Pierce knows exactly how the NBA referee thinks.
He's a master at not only the well-timed flop, but also initiating contact on step-back jumpers and three-pointers, often resulting in a free trip to the line. Sometimes, the refs give him the benefit of a call even when no contact is initiated.
For someone so athletically challenged to make it to the free-throw line 7,556 times in his career, Pierce could possibly be receiving some help.
5. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant is a fantastic talent, but I think even he would admit he gets a few undeserved shooting fouls called from time to time.
Even though he shot the fourth-most three-pointers of any NBA player last season with 344, he still managed to lead the league in free throws made (431) and finish third in free throws attempted (501).
How can a guy who takes so many long-range shots still get fouled so much?
You be the judge.
4. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose is an electrifying talent, which is possibly why the refs spend a lot of their time marveling at his talents rather than calling fouls on him.
In his MVP season of 2010-2011, Rose was a blur around the rim—so much so that referees only called him for 14 charges despite getting to the line 555 times.
As good as Rose is at attacking the basket, 14 charging calls in over 3,000 minutes on the court seems a bit low.
3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Oh Dwyane Wade, I want to like you. I really do.
With all the talent in the world, Wade still feels the need to throw in a well-timed flop every once in a while, as evidenced by this video.
Also able to get to the free-throw line whether he's earned it or not, Wade often ranks among the leaders in free throws attempted, stepping to the line as many as 803 times in a single season.
The best evidence of the bias towards Wade occurred in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, as Wade shot 97 free throws in just six games.
Wade is a tremendous player and slasher, but even the Salvation Army doesn't see that amount of charity.
2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe is widely considered the closest thing the NBA has seen to Michael Jordan, so it's natural he gets a few calls to go his way once in a while.
Bryant gets a lot of his calls driving to the hoop, as evidenced by his tremendous number of free-throw attempts.
For example, in 2004-2005, Bryant attempted 20.1 shots per game from the field. Of those 20.1, 5.9 were three-pointers, so it's likely he wasn't fouled.
That leaves 14.2 shots per game on two-pointers. What's remarkable about this number is that out of 14 shots from the field, he averaged 10.1 free throws per game.
Since all shooting fouls are worth two free throws, that would mean Bryant was getting "fouled" every 2.84 shots he attempted.
Seems a bit high, doesn't it?
1. LeBron James, Miami Heat
Love him or hate him, it's obvious LeBron James gets the most preferential treatment of any player in the NBA.
Be it the traveling, double-dribbles or even the infamous "crab dribble," NBA refs do whatever they can to keep the king on the court.
To LeBron's credit, he often gets hit or slapped on his way to the basket for no call because of his size and strength; it's hard to realize a foul occurred.
For every time this happens, though, a collection of LeBron "no calls" occurs.
Need more proof?
In nine NBA seasons, 689 regular-season games, James has fouled out of a game a grand total of three times. Yes, three in 689.
This past season, he averaged a minuscule 1.5 personal fouls per game—a truly remarkable number given how often he attacks the basket and has the ball in his hands.
Well done, ref...er, LeBron.
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