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These NBA Fans Are Trying To Get Jeremy Lin Some Damn Respect

Why aren't referees calling flagrant fouls when Lin gets hit in the head?
Lin's been taking hard hits near the basket all season, but hasn't received any help from NBA referees. 
Lin's been taking hard hits near the basket all season, but hasn't received any help from NBA referees. 

Since "Linsanity" died, most of the focus of Jeremy Lin's game has often accentuated what he can't do, rather than what he can. 

But through it all, Lin's main strength has never been up for debate: The guy can get to the basket. This season, out of players who've played in 70-plus games, Lin is 20th in drives per game, according to NBA.com. Anyone who drives a lot is naturally going to get hit and fouled, but when it comes to Lin, those hits are near-constant -- thwacks to the head hard and frequent enough to ask a simple question: Why isn't he getting any flagrant foul calls? 

Too often, Lin's drives have resulted in a bloodied and bruised face, the result of whacks and smacks from defenders trying to block Lin's shots as he dribbles directly at the basket -- and, in his case, into harm's way.

Lin asks for a timeout after getting hit in the nose by Los Angeles Clippers' forward Wesley Johnson on the previous play.

NBA fans and broadcasters have taken notice, too. During a March 12 home game against the Houston Rockets, Lin got knocked on the head by James Harden, which lead to a common foul and free-throws, but no official review on the potential flagrancy of the contact. "The sad thing is, this is a nightly occurrence with Jeremy Lin," Hornets commentator Eric Collins lamented.

Harden's elbow lands right on Lin's head while trying to block his shot.

With the season winding down, it does seem like, win or lose, a Hornets game was guaranteed at least this: Lin will get fouled driving to the basket, and referees won't review the degree of the foul, no matter how harsh it looks in real-time or on instant replay.

Spurred by these observations and a thread on JLinPortal.com, a Lin fan under the alias of JAD 7534 stitched together a video of the hardest hits Lin's taken this season -- none of which were called as flagrant fouls -- and unfavorably compared them to some of the fouls that have been deemed flagrant. In the video's description, a letter addressed to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called for the league to review Lin's hits, charging NBA referees as biased.

Some have inferred a more damning charge of league-wide racial discrimination on the part of referees: Lin isn't getting the calls he deserves because he's an Asian basketball player. 

The video posits questions about Lin's lack of fouls after each play, with an undercurrent of he's being singled out and wronged attached to every loaded question. It's really damn convincing, and seemingly undermines the supposed unbiased nature of NBA referees, although basketball culture is evidently anything but unbiased when it comes to Asian players. 

While the above video does have a bit of a "truther" feel to it, the plays shown are quite violent. Like when Kobe Bryant tried to decapitate Lin, but was only called for a common foul. Naturally, Kobe was visibly pissed that he was even called for that, and no flagrant foul review took place on the floor. 

Or when Carmelo Anthony dealt an uppercut into Lin's face, but wasn't called for any foul: 

As the hits have piled up, angry fans have been searching for legitimacy to their claims of unfairness against Lin. Former NBA referee and Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn has provided credibility to the budding online movement to help Lin get some calls. Nunn doesn't believe referees are acting in a discriminatory manner, but rather, thinks they're just flat-out incompetent -- a strong condemnation from a 19-year NBA referee. 

But while a former referee, fans and the media may think that Lin deserves more credit for his "hard-nosed play" and more flagrant fouls called in his favor, the NBA doesn't seem so moved. 

When The Huffington Post reached out to the NBA for comment on the fan-made video above, Michael Bass, the NBA's executive vice president of communications, explained that the Basketball Operations department reviews all plays involving hard contact -- foul or no foul -- after each game, and uses its flagrant foul criteria, all available camera angles and its own database of comparable plays to determine whether additional punishment should be dealt. 

In an email, the NBA also confirmed that the plays in the fan-made video were indeed reviewed, stating:

While some of the plays in the video you referenced involved hard contact, none was subsequently deemed a Flagrant Foul given the full circumstances, angles and comparables from past games. Referees do make mistakes, which means they miss calls that should have been made. When that occurs, we collect the data and provide referees with feedback to ensure improvement.

An individual's interpretation of the NBA's flagrant foul rules leaves room for subjective judgment, but the NBA has processes in place to eliminate as much of that as possible when evaluating hard contact plays. And still, no calls for Lin! The Hornets declined to comment or make Lin available for an interview on the topic, but on Sunday, he spoke to an NBA reporter (who seems to exclusively cover Lin) about the video.

He didn't express any anger or disappointment in how referees have called him this season, and kept his head up with a singular message: Just play through it. Lin was, however, hopeful he'd get more calls in the future thanks to the video. 

"I’m just thankful the fans are trying to do something about it, and trying to push the league to at least review some of the stuff. What happened on the film is exactly what happened [on the court]," he said. 

Rest assured, Jeremy: The league has reviewed the clocks and knocks and clothesline hits. They will continue to review every bit of hard contact you take. They just don't think that you've been subjected to "unnecessary and excessive contact" at all this season. 

Then again, Lin got to the line 10 times in the first half on Monday night. Even if the league won't admit it, maybe, just maybe, it is starting to pay attention.

 

 

 

 

 

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