LeBron James came close to hitting a heroic game-tying jumper to ring in his 39th birthday. How close? Well, about an inch away.
With the Lakers visiting the West-leading Timberwolves on Dec. 30, things came down to the wire. As LA trailed 107-104 with 7.8 seconds remaining, Anthony Davis pulled down a defensive rebound and hit a breaking James, who, after chasing the ball down, pulled up to hit a jumper from about 23 feet and eight inches out.
The only problem is that in the NBA, the majority of the 3-point line lies 23 feet and nine inches out. James’ shot was immediately ruled as a 2-pointer.
LeBron James’ 2-pointer against Timberwolves
LEBRON CUTS THE LEAD TO 1 WITH SECONDS REMAINING ‼️
— NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2023
Because the shot went through with under two minutes remaining, a review was immediately triggered. Because James’ toe was excruciatingly close to the 3-point line, the review became lengthy and with each replay, it became more difficult to tell whether or not James’ toe was actually on the line or not.
Similar to the controversial no-call between James’ Lakers and the Celtics in Boston last season, Lakers players became increasingly incensed as they felt James was behind the 3-point line.
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) December 31, 2023
After review, the play stood as a 2-pointer. What can be deduced from the conversation between official Tony Brothers and members of the Lakers is that there was no conclusive evidence that James was behind the 3-point line.
After cutting the deficit to one point, the Lakers intentionally fouled Anthony Edwards, who split a pair of free throws. Down two points with just over a second remaining, the Lakers called a timeout to advance the ball but were unable to get a shot off before time expired.
LeBron James irate after foot on line discounts potential game-tying shot
Postgame, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin shared a photo that made it look as though James’ toe was clear of the 3-point line.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 31, 2023
In a slow-motion video of the shot, it would appear that James’ toe edges toward the 3-point line as he rises to shoot the ball.
Zoomed in, slowed down look at the replay of LeBron’s go-ahead shot that was ruled a two instead of a three pic.twitter.com/ZlyEydSgjk
— AlexHoops (@AlexHoops_) December 31, 2023
When speaking with reporters postgame, James was irate at the decision to not overturn the original call. He didn’t hold back.
“It’s obviously a 3. My foot is behind the line,” James said. “You can see the space between the front of my foot and the 3-point line … the wood on the floor — there’s a space on the floor between my foot and the 3-point line. Stevie Wonder can see that, champ.
“Nah, Tony Brothers did not [have an explanation]. But I didn’t talk to Tony Brothers, I talked to the other ref. And they said it was out of their hands. The Secaucus — somebody over there in the replay center — somebody over there eating a ham sandwich or somebody made the call.”
LeBron James: “What’s the point of having replay if even the replay gets it wrong?” pic.twitter.com/gOyctVZUZH
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 31, 2023
James would go on to add that the Lakers had “five or six” controversial calls that didn’t go their way last year, saying that they’ll “look stupid” when the league’s Last Two Minute Report is released tomorrow.
When asked about the potential of a missed call on the game’s final play, James brought the conversation back to his 2-pointer, questioning the point of replay if the replay would be inaccurate.
James wasn’t done, either. He would later take to Instagram to post an angle similar to the photo shared by McMenamin along with the caption “Sooooooooooooooo!!!!! WTF. Helluva Happy Bday gift to me,” complete with a facepalm emoji.
Following the game, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said “The view I had, I thought it was a clear-cut 3 … We thought it was a good 3 … Although I disagree, we have to live with it.”
Why was LeBron James’ shot ruled a 2-pointer?
The NBA’s rulebook states that to change the outcome of a reviewable matter, there must be clear and conclusive visual evidence that the initial adjudication of that aspect of the play was incorrect.
Here is what Brothers said of the review when asked during a postgame pool report:
The play was ruled a 2-point field goal on the floor during live play. After video review, there wasn’t clear and conclusive evidence to overturn it from a 2 to a 3, and that’s why it stood as a 2-point field goal.
Source : ESPN.com